Boing Boing 

Gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo at London's South Bank Centre

Mat Ricardo sez, "Completely thrilled to announce that, in what must surely be some kind of administrative error, my one man show 'Showman' will have a three night run at The Purcell Room in London's South Bank Centre on the 19th, 20th & 21st of January."

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Turn a balloon into a phone case in seconds

Woosung An demonstrates an excellent technique for adding a layer of rubber protection to your phone in seconds, by deflating a balloon around it.

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Beautiful brain images take over Times Square

Brain City, this beautiful film by Noah Hutton made from neuroimagery collected at leading brain science labs, will screen in New York City just before midnight on Times Square's massive electronic billboards every night this month.

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Teller's latest video about living in a zombie world

Since 2008 Teller (Penn's partner) has been making a video show about living in a zombie infested world. His latest episode, the fifth in the series, was posted today.

Our Magic: Documentary about magic, by magicians

Our Magic is a feature documentary that pays homage to an ancient and mostly underground performing art, piercing through the thick layer of commonly held stereotypes. By Ferdinando BuscemaRead the rest

History of the Ouija Board

In 1891, Kennard Novelty Company, makers of the first commercial talking board, needed a name for their product, so they asked the board to name itself. Smithsonian's Linda Rodriguez McRobbie looks at "The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board." Above, my favorite Ouija Board moment in film. From Smithsonian:

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Contrary to popular belief, “Ouija” is not a combination of the French for “yes,” oui, and the German ja. (Ouija historian Robert) Murch says, based on his research, it was (Kennard Novelty Company co-founder) Elijah Bond’s sister-in-law, Helen Peters (who was, Bond said, a “strong medium”), who supplied the now instantly recognizable handle. Sitting around the table, they asked the board what they should call it; the name “Ouija” came through and, when they asked what that meant, the board replied, “Good luck.” Eerie and cryptic—but for the fact that Peters acknowledged that she was wearing a locket bearing the picture of a woman, the name “Ouija” above her head. That’s the story that emerged from the Ouija founders’ letters; it’s very possible that the woman in the locket was famous author and popular women’s rights activist Ouida, whom Peters admired, and that “Ouija” was just a misreading of that.

The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board"

Video: fantastic playing card flourishes

Captivating montage of playing card flourishes recorded in Singapore.

Video: Ferdinando Buscema on "The Magic of Breaking Ideas"

At the recent TEDxCaFoscariU in Venice, our co-conspirator Ferdinando Buscema, magician/author/engineer, explores "The Magic of Breaking Ideas." And don't miss Ferdinando's Boing Boing feature, "The Magic of Hacking Reality!"

Tablecloth trick++

Mat Ricardo improves on his signature tablecloth trick (in which he puts the tablecloth back under the place-settings) with a new trick that's quite a stunner!

The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist

A Gweek listener recommended The Magician and the Cardsharp to me (I can't remember who - sorry!) and I'm thankful he did. It's a well-told story about two men with intersecting lifelong goals. The first man was Allen Kennedy (1865–1961) a professional card cheat who spent many years perfecting his technique to deal cards from the center of the deck undetected. The second man was Dai Vernon (1894–1992), one of the most highly-respected sleight-of-hand magicians in history.

Vernon, who worked as a silhouette cutter in department stores, had been interested in card tricks (especially ones involving sleight-of-hand) since childhood. By the time he was an adult, he'd gained a reputation for being one of the best card handlers in the world. From time-to-time, Vernon would heard rumors that there was a professional cardsharp somewhere in Missouri who'd mastered the mythical Center Deal, a move that almost every magician dismissed as an impossible fantasy.

Vernon had his doubts too, but the rumors continued to spread, and his curiosity got the better of him. He embarked on a years-long quest, involving much travel and encounters with scary characters, to find out if there really was someone who had invented an undetectable center deal and, if he existed, to convince the man to teach him how it was done. This book is not only the story of Vernon's search for, and eventual meeting with, the man behind the rumor, it is also a history of the American midwest's rough-and-tumble past, replete with illegal gambling dens, speakeasies, con-men, whorehouses, and mobsters. Author Karl Johnson does a fine job of bringing the dusty, dangerous, boisterous, exciting atmosphere of small city vice to life.

The Magician and the Cardsharp

Video below shows a sample of the genius of Dai Vernon:

The magic of hacking reality

As humans, we search for ways to escape reality. For centuries, magicians have fucked our minds in the blink of an eye. Magic experience designer Ferdinando Buscema tells us how.Read the rest

Slo-mo yo-yo trick: uh-oh!

Showman Mat Ricardo sends us "a little clip of one of the new tricks in the 2014 tour of my one man show 'Showman.' We've been touring it around the world over the last year, and can't wait to return for a limited run at the Edinburgh Fringe in August."

Ventriloquism's past and present

155264560 ventriloquist dummy in dolls bears

At The Wire, performance artist Sarah Angliss explores the weird history and present state of ventriloquism, from the 16th century exorcism of a demonic dummy to Angliss's own robotic stage companions.

Crowdfunding to send injured "How to Cheat at Everything" author to UK for free healthcare


I've written over the years about Simon Lovell's How to Cheat at Everything, a must-read encyclopedia of cons.

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Huge crop circle in Italy

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This magnificent crop circle appeared last night in Poirino, Italy.

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Pesco speaking at WebVisions Barcelona on June 21

Cabinet of Curiosities 1690s Domenico Remps

I'm thrilled to be speaking about the intersection of science, art, and magic on Saturday, June 21, at the WebVisions Barcelona conference taking place 6/19 - 6/21!

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Pesco speaking in Barcelona in June

Cabinet of Curiosities 1690s Domenico Remps

I'll be speaking at WebVisions in Barcelona, June 19-21, about "Science, Art, and Magic"; please come if you're in the area!

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Video: stunning art installation of thread and light

Video of a magical architectural installation of an illuminated web of threads, titled "Line Segments Space" (2013), by Seoul design studio Kimchi and Chips.

The Oversight: conspiracies, magic, and the end of the world

The clever blendings of history and imagination in Charlie Fletcher's new novel are satisfying enough to make resolution of its loose ends worth waiting for, writes Cory DoctorowRead the rest

Magical ring juggling

Hypnotic and astonishing contact juggling of rings by Lindzee Poi.

Magician makes dogs' treats vanish

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okuwB9zrncg

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.

Wonderful new book about "Magic Experience Design" (in Italian)

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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.

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Time-lapse fireflies

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]

Magician makes dog treats disappear

Poor pups! [Video Link]

New documentary about Silvan - The Great Magician

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.

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.

Silvan - The Great Magician, directed by Gabriele Trapani

Dark Art: spectacular illusions from the golden age of magic

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

Incredibly Interesting Authors 005: Alex Stone, author of Fooling Houdini

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.

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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.

Dynamic tangible display renders 3D data in physical form

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!)

A pioneering magician's retina watercolor

Eyeball

Robert houdin decapitationIn 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)

Levitating, dancing and shapeshifting droplet

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!)