The History of Magic

How magic has changed in modern times

The art of magic boasts an extensive history. This latest magic blog installment by magician Chris Whitelock delves into its evolution in contemporary times. Since ancient times, magicians have captivated audiences with their spellbinding performances. As evidenced by the recorded magic tricks of Dedi, an Ancient Egyptian magician, dating back to 2700 BC. The cup and balls trick, the first recorded magic act, remains popular and is still performed today.

Women in the Magic Circle

When the Magic Circle was formed in 1905 it was a men-only club. In fact, this patriarchal attitude persisted until 1991 when women were finally admitted as members of the Circle. Thirty years later, the Circle appointed its first-ever woman President, Megan Swann, who uses her magic as a way of teaching people about the environment. 

The big reveal

If you’re a member of the Magic Circle, then you cannot reveal how a trick is done. Magicians such as Penn & Teller and Derren Brown are unconstrained by the ‘no reveal’ rules of the organisation. They make their living out of explaining how things are done! Thankfully, in doing so, they haven’t spoiled magic. On the contrary, what they’ve done is highlight just how extraordinary the dexterity, dedication and ability of the magician is!

The use of technology

I think the way most people see technology is the same as the way most people view magic. We know it works and we know there’s a logical explanation about how it works. But it’s still extraordinary! When modern technology first became commonplace, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would fit in with the magic world. Or whether the two would, by necessity, have to be kept apart. But in fact, technology has helped magic become more exciting, even with close up magic. There’s one magician who uses an iPad as the basis of his act. Unsurprisingly he’s become known as ‘The iPad Magician’. I often integrate my phone into my magic tricks, and I love inventing tricks with modern technology at the heart of them. It’s a new way of delighting my audiences. 

Magicians have had to up their game

TV has dramatically changed things for magicians. People can now watch and re-watch tricks in slow motion and have the ability to freeze-frame a scene so they can work out how it was done. And, as many entertainers have discovered, as soon as a trick is aired on TV, magicians need to come up with new magic tricks! So we have had to be more creative when coming up with ideas for our sleight of hand magic. 

Where can you currently see magic?

There may not be much magic on TV at the moment, but maybe that’s because magic is best seen live. We’re all so used to special effects on film and TV that it may well be that we’re subconsciously expecting it to have been digitally enhanced. However, when it’s performed in front of our very eyes, we know for sure it truly is ‘proper’ magic. This is why there’s still a thirst to see magic being performed in front of a live audience, which is why close up magicians and cabaret magicians are in great demand. At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, for example, there were over 50 magic acts performing! If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, you can catch a brilliant magic show at Wonderville in Central London.

Now that you have read how magic has changed in modern times, how about booking a Close up magician for your next event? Magicians are increasingly popular at weddings, parties and corporate events. Visit the CWMagic gallery to see examples, then contact me to find out how I can make your event just a little bit more magical. 

Christopher Whitelock
8 Sep 2022

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