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Proceedings Paper

Unique Optical Illusions From A Magician's Perspective
Author(s): Ken Rosenthal
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Paper Abstract

The stage and close-up magicians have employed various types of optical effects in the presentation of magic illusions. Although certain magical effects "are done with mirrors", many other feats of magic employ no mirrors at all, but other optical-type devices in certain instances. The magician has relied on his magical creativity, misdirection, and showmanship, often more than certain optical and engineering-type devices for achievement of the magical effect. However, certain technical devices have always been a part of the magician's "bag-of-tricks". A brief overview of the magic, patent, and engineering literature is presented detailing what optical devices and effects magicians have and will continue to use. An important criterion is that the optical effect, however simple or complex, when combined with the intended illusion, give the audience the experience of an entertaining, mysterious, magical effect--not a science class type demonstration. Several examples are presented of optical effects in magic tricks which have been successfully employed. The main purpose of this paper is not to expose the secrets of magic, but to allow the optical engineer to gain an appreciation and understanding of how the magician develops and performs new effects, so that new optical devices and techniques might find their place in a show of illusions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 October 1983
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 0391, Optics in Entertainment, (4 October 1983); doi: 10.1117/12.935078
Show Author Affiliations
Ken Rosenthal, Consultant (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0391:
Optics in Entertainment
Chris S. Outwater, Editor(s)

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