The Tapestry of Deception (PAL VHS)
65 minutes approx.
by Graham Nichols
Question: what makes a great magician, and what have performers like Ricky Jay, Larry Jennings, Eugene Burger, Darwin Ortiz and Michael Vincent in common? For me it is the fact that their magic has meaning, causing the audience to actually care about what is being done, and so producing very strong reactions to the effect being shown. Also they have a deep love and respect for the art, which they are proud to share with their audience. They touch their audiences with magic, creating feelings of pure astonishment. They don't do tricks. They are not the "wise-guy muppet" going for cheap laughs at the expense of the effect, which we, sadly, all too often see. They care about their audience, causing their audience to care about them.
In his latest lecture video "The Tapestry of Deception", filmed at The Magic Circle, Michael Vincent examines the process of astonishment creation by asking "What is misdirection?" or "audience attention control" as he calls it. In the same way that Vernon was able to step back from the mechanics, and challenge what is actually occurring, so Michael invites his viewers to examine what a magical experience actually is and how to create it consistently. He poses a very basic, yet crucial, question: "How can you misdirect an audience's attention, if you don't have it in the first place?"
Drawing upon his experiences of personal tuition from the likes of Slydini and Larry Jennings, he then goes on to lead by example and performs Al Baker's "Coin through the table" using many Slydini subtleties and personal touches of his own. The result is a beautiful, visually stunning, portion of astonishment, with which he demonstrates the points of tension and relaxation. I imagine that few can cause genuine gasps from the seasoned professionals at The Magic Circle, but the soundtrack showed that he hit the nail firmly on the head every single time. If you think you already know the routine, watch him fool you badly, even after he has explained his methods. Now that is true magic!
Respected for his expert card technique, no Michael Vincent lecture would be complete without the every-present deck emerging from his pocket. Francis Carlyle's "Homing Card" from "The Stars of Magic" is then demonstrated, and later explained, in relation to misdirection. We then discover that this control has caused us to miss some, almost blatant, sleights right under our noses! By controlling the spectators assisting him, he has also led the entire audience along the path of his choice. Very powerful stuff. Don't think that watching his performance from the safety of your lounge TV will render you immune - it doesn't.
Finally, Larry Jenning's "Ambidextrous Travellers" received the "Vincent polish", demonstrating that even a classic of card magic can be improved in the right hands, and given the correct attitude. This really made me think. By applying this philosophy to the effects which are already on our own bookshelves, true wonders have been within our grasp all along We just didn't realise it. Ignoring this fact is what has given us that "drawer full of stuff" which, we'd rather not mention, but all have.
Body positioning, eye contact and verbal control are all covered. All the subtleties that are designed to go unquestioned, and yet raise a mere trick into a magical masterpiece. The 65 minutes seemed like ten to me, such is the absorption factor. Michael hinted that another, future, lecture would address the many other aspects of this fascinating, and very deep, subject, and personally I can't wait to experience it. From the reaction of those at his lecture, it was easy to tell that they were happy to sit and learn from him for many hours more
This is not a video from which to learn new material, and it is not designed as such. The two effects presented are merely vehicles with which Michael takes us on an, all too brief, journey of self-examination. If you are serious about amplifying the power of your own magic, and can appreciate what is being conveyed in Darwin Ortiz's "Strong Magic", Tommy Wonder's "Books of Wonder", Derren Brown's "Absolute Magic" or any of Eugene Burger's work, you will cherish this video. I highly recommend that you invest in your audience's future happiness by purchasing this gem for yourself. Hobbyist of pro, there is definitely something here for everyone. As one member of the audience is quoted as saying on the video sleeve "I wish had seen that lecture 25 years ago."
I now have to go away and totally re-construct everything I thought I knew. Damn you Michael Vincent. Thank you for showing me the way.
© Graham Nichols, October 2002
Michael can be contact at firstname.lastname@example.org