I tend to dislike it when blogs just become occasions to shout about the places one's been, the 'amazing' things done there, etc. Blogs can be more than opportunities for self-aggrandizing and marketing.
Having said that: here I was at Tate Modern! Part of 'Tate Exchange', and curated by theatre director and artist Tim Etchells, I was part of a series of talks and presentations to inaugurate the new space, on level 5 of the Switch House.
Performing close-up magic in a crowded room is difficult at the best of times, those darned sight lines just won't work. Still, the main focus was on how to share some of the mechanics of magic, without really giving away 'the secret'. An idea that I take from the Alex Stone book, 'Fooling Houdini', is how magic is inherently insular, and, in an attempt to preserve secrets, remains very closed off to other developments in the arts and other disciplines. Despite many improvements, I would say that magicians on the whole remain anchored to modes of thinking, speaking, behaving and performing that seem somewhat at odds with 20th and 21st century developments in theatre arts.
So the event at Tate was for me an opportunity to try to talk about sleight of hand, to introduce "The Expert at the Card Table' (a sort of founding text for card magic, printed 1902), to discuss how magicians took the naturalness and 'invisibility' of gambling sleights, giving rise to close-up and sleight of hand magic.
I'm not sure much of it will 'stick', but I think, or hope, that understanding something about the real work behind magic can improve things: improve the dialogue between magic and other art forms, improve the status of magic, improve relations between audiences and magicians.
Explanations of magic's inner workings needn't be demonised or seen as a NO-GO area. I am wondering if there are sensitive, responsible, and caring ways to open up magic's mechanics to a non-magician crowd. Instead of constantly assuming this 'us-them' border, as though magicians and non-magicians were two different species, the former might learn something by sharing their knowledge. After all, performing is a lot about empathy, and putting oneself in the place of others...