Hypnotic and astonishing contact juggling of rings by Lindzee Poi.
Magician Jose Ahonen confounds canines with some sleight of hand. "By the way, all the dogs got treats before and after the trick," states the video description on YouTube.
Today marks the Italian publication of "L'arte Di Stupire" ("The Art of Amazement") the new book by Boing Boing friends and collaborators Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis whose work is best described as "magic experience design." I've read a draft English translation and it's absolutely fantastic. I can't wait for the eventual publication of the English edition. Here's what I said about the book:
Buscema and Tomatis are modern day mystics who move seamlessly between the realms of science, art, and magic, seeking wonder at every turn. They delight in inspiring us all to cultivate curiosity and embrace astonishment in our daily lives. This brilliant book is an empowering grimoire for hacking reality and giving the gift of magical experiences to others.
Read the rest
Vincent Brady shot these scenes of swarming fireflies at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and at his home in Michigan: "I used every trick I have up my sleeve to pull this off. Image stacking, 360 degree startrail panoramas, and even a macro love scene! Hold on to your seats these fireflies fly by pretty quick!"
There's a fantastic gallery of stills, too. And that perfect musical accompaniment is by Brandon McCoy. [Video Link. Via Colossal]
I loved this 15-minute documentary about the Italian magician Silvan. He is very charismatic as he tells his story. His room is filled with beautiful magic memorabilia. (Is that Minecraft music playing in the background?)
Nobody knows a magician's secrets, but everybody knows Silvan.
Wecrosstheline meets one of the greatest international masters of illusion: the man who has enchanted millions of Italians with his unique blend of style and skill, illusion and elegance.
Silvan - The Great Magician, directed by Gabriele Trapani
Voted Magician of the Year twice, in 1990 and 1999 - the only artist outside America to have received this prestigious award - the great Silvan welcomes us into his home in Rome where we become the witnesses to a magical existence as he reveals the secrets of his legendary life.
Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly says: "We just published an interview with Zack Coutroulis, who has an amazing collection of vintage magic posters. Zack explains how many of the most popular magicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries got their starts in vaudeville, sandwiched between song-and-dance acts and comedians. If the magicians got big enough to go out on their own, they'd produce lithographed posters to publicize their shows. While some of these posters were portraits of magicians such as Dante, Carter the Great, Kellar, and Thurston, often surrounded by devils and imps whispering dark-art secrets into their ears, other posters showcased particular illusions, such as the one of Harry Houdini performing the water-torture trick."
Dark Art: Spectacular Illusions from the Golden Age of Magic
In his book Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (reviewed here), Alex Stone starts by recounting his tragically humiliating disqualification at an international magic competition. So ashamed was he by the unceremonious ejection from the stage that he gave up magic and pursued a post-grad degree in physics. Eventually the lure of the conjuring arts called him back, but this time around, Stone got serious. He sought mentors, practiced incessantly, researched magic history, and read up on the psychology of deception and the limits of human perception.
Buy a copy of Fooling Houdini on Amazon.
Incredibly Interesting Authors: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode
You can listen to Incredibly Interesting Authors and other Boing Boing podcasts on Swell, a cool streaming smartphone app. Visit swell.am to download the free app.
inFORM is a "Dynamic Shape Display" that lowers and raises pegs in a matrix to display digital 3D information in a physical way. The effect is quite magical. It's a prototype from MIT's Tangible Media Group that embodies their concept of "Radical Atoms," materials that can dynamically shift form to generate a kind of blended reality that merges the virtual and physical. (Thanks, Syd Garon!)
In the history of magic, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805-1871) is considered the father of contemporary conjuring. (Indeed, Ehrich Weiss was so influenced by the master magician that he took the stage name of Houdini in his honor.) A lifelong maker, Robert-Houdin is credited in the late 1860s with inventing an optical device called an "iridoscope" to see details within the eye. In a description of the device from the time reprinted in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, Houdin said that "its principle is something like that upon which a water carafe is held up to the light to detect whether the contents are pure." Above is an 1866 watercolor Robert-Houdin used the device to paint of the cataracts in his own eye. It was shown as part of a recent Robert-Houdin exhibit titled "Fascination optique" at the Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin in Blois France. (via Cabinet)
Absolutely beautiful dance of a liquid droplet. In scientific terms, an ultrasonic field is used to levitate a drop of liquid. Increasing and decreasing the strength of the field alters the droplet's shape. Here is the scientific paper: "Shape oscillation of a levitated drop in an acoustic ﬁeld," by W. Ran & S. Fredericks (Clemson University, Department of Mechanical Engineering)" (Thanks, Ariel Waldman!)
Here's a great clip of Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards (the voice of Jiminy Cricket!) singing; as Dooley sez, "Ike does what he does best, singing and wailing on the ukulele, while lady magician pulls lit cigarettes out of him. Can someone please tell me her name?"
Cliff Edwards HIGH QUALITY Ukelele Ike "It's magic"
In 1910, Harry Houdini magically flew over a field near Melbourne, Australia. OK, he was in an airplane. But I hadn't known that the great magician was an aviation enthusiast. Houdini's demonstration was the first heavier-than-air flight in Australia. Apparently, it was a real nail-biter that ended in success. Now, Smithsonian Air & Space reports on the effort to find Houdini's plane, if it still exists.
He flew a Voisin biplane that he’d bought in Germany the year before. Powered by a British ENV engine capable of 60 to 80 horsepower, it sailed over trees, rocks, and fences, reported the Melbourne Argus, then wavered slightly. “Ah! Cabre, cabre!” shouted Antonio Brassac, Houdini’s French mechanic. “The word signifies the action of a rearing horse,” continued the Argus, “and it indicates that the plane, like the horse, will almost inevitably come to grief.”
"The Hunt for Houdini’s Airplane"
In this video, Mariano Tomatis shows how to create chocolate out of nothing. Here is his explanation of this wonderful phenomenon, known as a missing square or vanishing area puzzle. (Thanks, Ferdinando Buscema!)
Harry Harwood Garrison of Cincinnati, Ohio died last week at age 77. Sounds like an amazing guy; wish I'd know him! From his obituary:
Sole proprietor of the Player Piano Shop, enthusiast & restorer of all variety of automated musical instruments, life-time entertainer performing magic acts & smoke-ring blowing, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson…
Harry Harwood Garrison obituary (Cincinnati.com, thanks Gil Kaufman!)
Raconteur, gourmand, fine-arts supporter & lover of music, particularly traditional & Dixieland jazz, boogie-woogie piano, blues, bluegrass, & opera. Historian of Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Westwood, & Colerain Township; craftsman, traveler, latter-day renaissance man, noted by many friends & colleagues for having a remarkable memory & his ability to recall detail.