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737340.  Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:40 pm Reply with quote

Magic tricks and stage illusions? There's probably some information floating around about the provenance of large-scale stage illusions. Share some, if you know it. I shall, in the meantime, rummage about in search of some.

737345.  Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:07 pm Reply with quote

There's always Pepper's Ghost, which should more properly be called the Dircksian Phantasmagoria, though Pepper's Ghost flows more trippingly off the tongue.

737376.  Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:23 pm Reply with quote

Houdini's disappearing elephant

737386.  Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:13 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
There's always Pepper's Ghost, which should more properly be called the Dircksian Phantasmagoria, though Pepper's Ghost flows more trippingly off the tongue.

Was a plot element in the Sherlock series recently, quite enjoyed it even though I dislike Holmes generally.

737582.  Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:09 am Reply with quote

In the vocabulary of magicians, an illusion is a large-scale trick for the stage in which a human being is an important prop. The meaning has been extended to refer to other large-scale tricks that use large animals (elephants, horses, big cats), vehicles, etc., instead of people.

So sawing a lady in half is an illusion, but pulling a rabbit from a hat isn't.

The book Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic, which is often recommended as the best first book for beginners, has a section of simple illusions. I feel fairly comfortable mentioning this title because it's so widely available from Amazon, bookshops, and libraries. Most illusion books and plans are obtainable only from specialist sellers.

As with all branches of magic, there are various naughty websites and torrents that give away proprietary secrets, but I won't point to any.

737651.  Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:57 pm Reply with quote

Probably the greatest large scale illusion was that of Jasper Maskelyne, who made a whole city, Alexandria, disappear, and reappear in a different location.
Jasper Maskelyne, was born in 1902 in England, a music hall conjurer, never fired a shot in battle, but his amazing feats played a key role in the Allied victory in Africa.

Among his many triumphs, Maskelyne “hid” the Suez Canal and conjured up illusions of armies and battleships, fooling German forces led by General Erwin Rommel into retreat.

The grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne, one of the founding fathers of British magic, Maskelyne was a celebrated stage magician before the war. Convinced he could use his skills to help the army, Maskelyne wooed sceptical officials by creating the illusion of a German warship floating down the Thames using mirrors and a model.

He was placed in charge of the Royal Engineers Camouflage Corps and sent to Egypt where he performed some genuine mission impossibles. Asked to prevent the Germans from bombing Alexandria Harbour, the conjurer redirected the bombers by recreating the harbour’s exact lighting pattern three miles away.

He “vanished” the Suez Canal by building a series of spinning strobe lights to put pilots off their bearings. Maskelyne’s greatest triumph came in 1942 when he successfully convinced Rommel that the British Eighth Army was in the south of the Egyptian desert and that the Alamein attack would begin there rather than in the north. Although praised privately by Churchill and hunted by Hitler, Maskelyne ended his days in relative obscurity as a farmer in Kenya and died in 1973.

737699.  Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:01 pm Reply with quote

(Not to mention the other major illusion of appearing to put a man on the moon)

/me dives for cover

737726.  Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:51 pm Reply with quote

mckeonj - Maskelyne's claims get a pretty thorough going-over here:

Article no 16 here:
concerns the Suez Canal camouflage business.


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