East Technical University
term report submitted in partial fulfilment
of the requirements of ID.484
East Technical University
June 16. 1989
of Industrial Design
is one copy of my report, Design of Dreams When Awake, submitted in
partial fulfilment of the requirements of your course, ID484.
The information used for producing this paper is mostly derived
the experiences of some master performers, books, video tapes, manuscript
sources, as well as unpublished material. I would like to express may deepest
thanks to Mr.Isak Simsar (Dr.Morgan) - my master, to Mr.Hasan Yentur (Sankadra)
for their verbal comments on my work and passing their experiences on the
subject onto me. I also present my thanks to Prof.Dr.Metin And for his kindness
for letting me watch his private video tapes.
errors in this work are of course not their responsibility.
OF TRANSMITTAL ................................................... .
OF CONTENS ...............................................................
: The Art of Creating Dreams
How the Illusions are Achieved?
Production of Magical Apparatus ...........................................
A. Industrially Produced Magical Apparatus .........................
B. Hand Made-Custom Produced Magical Apparatus ...........
C. Mass Production Versus Custom Production
The Necessity of Designer in the Art of Illusion ....................
A. Design of the Tricks and Apparatus
B. Design of Magical Costumes
C. Stage Design
LITTLE VOCABULARY .........................................
This report aims to give a unified perspective to the reader about the
art of illusion. The effort has been consumed on to integrate design and
illusion in a suitable way. The cue points of illusion and its weak points
needing a designer's touch are discussed. In this work, the reader also will
find a brief discussion about the production of the magical apparatus. Finally
the reader will find a unified approach to the designer and illusion
relationship. The main parts of illusion, needing a designers touch; are
Some points in the report have not reached to a solution on purpose. This
is done so, in order to leave that parts to the reader to judge. The language
has been kept as simple as possible by using very little special vocabulary. No
part of this report is written in detail in order not to scatter the attention
of the reader.
For those who wish to obtain a more detailed information, the books in
the bibliography are recommended as fine sources.
OF DREAMS WHEN AWAKE
ILLUSION: THE ART OF CREATING
The art of illusion is as old as mankind himself. It has begun as
conjuring of the smart people to the less smart ones. At the beginning the
illusion performers had been accepted as "magicians" having secret
powers. By the development of technology, apparatus had been introduced to magic.
By this new innovation the illusion tricks could be taken the following steps:
little pocket tricks
: which could be done at seated table such as; match stick
tricks, tumblers, thimbles and dice tricks for new beginners.
: Although there are special
prepared decks for new beginners; it is inevitable to perform tricks with
ordinary playing cards in a period of time. Of course it will need a
considerable practice to achieve this.
stage and cabaret tricks
: These are big tricks which need to have special apparatus as
well as personal talent. These tricks are usually prepared by using special
optics, electricity and psychology. They are big tricks, yes, but not
necessarily big equipments.
: They are the tricks which
are seem to be either; hypnosis, spiritualism, telepathy or fakir act.
By the way; if should we define illusion, we may say that: illusion is
the art of creating fantastic effects by deceiving the five senses; which we can
not do or see in our daily life. Illusion makes people to take a journey to the
dreamland and make them to perceive the realities better, when they come back.
Illusion aims to show that the hand is faster than the eye. Sometimes some
apparatus is used sometimes only hand skill is enough. Please remark that still
no such thing as magic power is concerned.
Why?..... Simply, because no such thing exists. Therefore, who is an
illusionist? Is he a magician? Absolutely
no! An illusionist is the actor who
plays the role of a magician on the stage. He just acts like a magician, using
some principles to create an impression on the audiences as if he had some
HOW THE ILLUSIONS ARE ACHIEVED?
Achieving illusions is easy as far as if you know the principles of
illusion and able to use them. Naturally, there are hundreds of them but the
basic ones are quite few and easy to remember. They are more than enough to
produce illusions and design either the apparatus or the entire trick itself.
Here are the basic principles:
It's where you look or let's say making the audience look at the right
way at the wrong time, the wrong way at the right time, or wherever you want
them to look. The audience will look at.
Where you look
Where you point
Where something happens
Where there is a sudden noise. (2)
: Convincing a person to do
something he would rather not do, or how to make the audiences choice really
: They are invisible
assistants used by the illusionist. It is, so to speak, how to use secret
devices in performing your tricks and confusing your audience.
: They are concealed gadgets
which are seen by the audiences but never understood. They are devices having a
special duty but seem to be innocent of trickery for the audience.
: Appearing something out of
: Learning how to make
objects disappear, or the mystery of producing nothing from something.
: Convincing the audience that you can change objects into
something else; mysteriously rearranging the position of two or more objects.
: Surprising the audience by
doing something which can't be done, or creating the illusion of a solid object
passing through another solid object.
: Destroying objects and
putting them back together in their original shape.
kinds of magic acts' items; such as: mind reading, escapology etc.
OF MAGICAL APPARATUS
INDUSTRIALLY PRODUCED MAGICAL APPARATUS
will manufacture goods in large quantities. In this point of view; there is no
real illusion industry throughout the world. No magical item is ever produced by
thousands, rarely by hundreds. Then it is more convenient to call them makers of
magic instead of magic industries. In fact they call themselves either as "makers
of magic" or "magic studios". Sometimes they have a small branch
to sell their products, called as magic shops, if they sell retail-wise. And as
magic dealers, if they sell wholesale trade-wise.
They do produce goods for illusion, though not industrially but mass-production
by labour. On the other hand they search for the most suitable piece on the
market to use it to produce an item. Seldom if they can not supply from the
market, they produce the piece by themselves or make it produced in a limited
quantity. But; to produce an item in mass-production, it should be usable in
more than one apparatus.
magic makers usually don't have even their own workshops for production. They
use carpenters, black smiths, metal workers, painters and other craftsmen around
and order the related parts of the apparatus to be produced . Finally they make
the assembly themselves. In other words; the complete apparatus is never done in
a single workshop. By this way, even the craftsmen producing item don't know the
There is also the other side of the medallion; many of the magic dealers
are fine performers and storehouses of information concerning the art. But if
they want to stay in business, they must sell what magicians will buy, not what
they ought to buy.
They apparatus in a magic dealers catalogue runs all the way from 25 cent
ball clips to $ 1250 buzz-saw illusions. Within this range are the makings for
some of the best tricks in magic, and also astonishing number of monstrosities
that have no purpose except to
lighten the pockets of over zealous amateurs. Who in his right senses would shell out fifteen or twenty
dollars, say, for a set of eight three-inch wooden disks, two garishly daubed
metal covers, and a suspicious-looking tall tin can, the purpose of which is to
make the disks, an orange, and some rice move around among tinware? Or what
about two odd-shaped boxes with gaudy trimmings, whose sole function is to make
one of three wooden blocks disappear from one box and be found, for some reason,
in the other? Maybe it will seem rather silly to the reader to learn this, but
magicians often buy these kinds of new-junks; even if somebody show them the
secret in advance. The reason of their buying varies from the lack of time for
custom production to excellent decoration of the item.
Obviously the magic dealers or magic studies have no contribution to
innovation of art of illusion. The items produced are usually old fashioned
tricks or their variations, seldom there are new tricks sold on market. There is
no effort on designing new things-if there is, it is
little. Instead of designing new things which has a risqué whether it sells or not; studios
prefer old and tried out ones for production.
HAND MADE-CUSTOM PRODUCED MAGICAL APPARATUS
Custom making of magical apparatus is for those who are in the know of
secrets and capable of producing them. Nevertheless, custom-making needs some
substitution elements such as film boxes instead of tubes, or cardboards instead
of thin layers of wood, and many more countless items in this way.
On the other hand, usually custom made opparatus are more suitable to the
performer due to the production to fit to a definite as well. By custom making,
the apparatus will be more personal, whereas the industrial ones are rather
Custom making of the magical apparatus, perhaps, is the most important
step for an illusionist to enhance his creativity. He may change any part, any
pattern or any detail as well as gimmicks. Nobody will ask about his apparatus
or even notice the changes. Furthermore having a unique apparatus spiritually
affects the artist in the positive manner. As no illusion artist wants his
apparatus to be copied, he will again go on thinking about the ways of revising
them. In other words he will make exercises on his creative power, which will
increase his artistic sense. To create a new trick and design it, is only
possible by custom production. So to speak, magician without custom by the
others. This fact, obviously means that magician without custom production and
without his own designs can never be "great".
MASS PRODUCTION VERSUS CUSTOM PRODUCTION
If one should compare custom production and mass production, the
evaluation will be very subjective. There are many people who claim the
superiority of one to the other. Probably to claim that, everybody should choose
the proper one that suits himself; will be the most
solution. Here are two ideas without any comparison or comment:
i."To buy magical apparatus from dealers is a waste of money. You
have to work on your own equipment, by this way you may find out some
discoveries which are known by nobody. Thanks to these discoveries, it is
possible for you to design your own tricks which nobody has. This will happen to
you; the more you work on your apparatus, the sooner and more often it happens.
This is the basic rule to enhence your design ingenuity".
ii."Some of the apparatus can be made at home, or at private
workshops, as a general rule, it is cheaper and more satisfactory to buy it at a
conjuring repository. Low prices are the order of the day; and as the articles
are made by experienced men, they must be superior to those manufactured by
persons new to the business".
If still buying articles from the magic dealers seems convenient to you,
then remember: In most cases, it is the secret which you have bought and not so
much the article. Then if you know
the secret, it is advisable for you to produce your own apparatus. Sometimes it
may not be possible to produce goods with the same quality, there is nothing to
worry about. Naturally, you may not be able to produce everything, then you
should go to a magic studio. That's why they are present.
Lets say you need two duplicate colossal jumbo playing cards. You have to
pay approximately 5.50, GBP for each. If you enlarge a regular playing card by
means of color photocopy, you will pay one tenths of its original cost. All you
will spent, is your labour, nothing more. Sure, it will not be as high quality
as printed ones, but since you won't play games with them, the quality is not so
much important. Remember that colossal jumbo cards are just for show. In the
light of this small evaluations you may decide what to do.
No matter whichever conclusion you arrive; magic studios had survived
till today and will survive. On the other hand, illusionists will never give up
the custom production of their own apparatus.
THE NECESSITY OF DESIGNER IN THE ART OF ILLUSION
Most probably illusion is one of the most virgin fields for a designer.
Up to the time no designer but the illusion artists themselves had designed
everything. Now it is the time to terminate this era and open a new one with the
designer's touch. Naturally the designer who is to work in the field of illusion,
has to know all the information about magic, some of which are mentioned above.
The designer can touch his magic wand to various spots in the art of illusion.
The major ones of these spots are:
DESIGN OF THE TRICKS AND APPARATUS
Usually the illusionists used to design their own tricks or just steal
the secret from the other artists. In the last decade, there had been some
exceptions to this rule. Such as Paul Daniels in Great Britain or David
Copperfield in United States of America. What is common is both is that, they
are just performers, they design nothing. Instead, there is a commitee for each
artist who designs the tricks for them. Thanks to these commitees, they perform
either brand new shows or modified versions of old ones. The result is obvious:
both of them are
as the best of their carrier in their countries. In a television show, the
secret of his success had been asked to Paul Daniels. He replied very plain, he
just performs and does not think about the tricks or the modification of them.
By this way he could concentrate on performance deeper.
As seen in the examples there is a need for designers in this field of
art for the sake of the innovation. Although the developments in technology
affect the appereance of the apparatus, the decorations may change due to new
artistic materials; the principles of illusion mentioned above all remain same.
For example: In the old times, the magician used to make a spectator to choose a
card and have the card signed by the spectator. The card is returned to the pack,
without artists seeing it and the pack is shuffled. The pack then is put to its-empty,
ungimmicked-box. A cone is made from a page of newspaper and the pack is put and
wrapped inside it, with its box; closed. Then the artist stings a controlled
skewer to the cone and punchs the pack of cards-which are in the cone and inside
its closed box. Now happens the miracle, the chosen card is skewed on the skewer
with its original signature on and the whole pack is still closed in its box. In
the modern version of this trick; you put the closed box of cards in the head of
a robot, instead of a paper cone no skewer is required. The robot drops the
chosen card out of his stomach, showing that the magic is also computerised
Apart from these fully changed appearances in tricks, you may still enjoy
a modern version of cups and balls which is the most oldest magic trick to be
known. The only reason of their survival through centuries, is a touch of design
no matter educated or not.
DESIGN OF MAGIC COSTUMES
Up to the second half of the last century the magicians used to wear a
long and flowing robe and a conical hat, as if they are real
Later then, Robert Houdin-the father of modern illusion-
tailcoats to illusion. Perhaps the introduction of tailcoats to the illusion,
was immediately accepted and admired by the magicians, so it had survived till
Since it has been nearly a century that tailcoats are being used in
illusion, now it is not too early to think about something new. Probably each
illusion artist has to have on original costume, which suits his own style: that
means he needs an original design of costume belonging to himself and fit
exactly. For instance to a sleight of hand artist (manipulator), a robe-like the
wizard type will not fit, because this kind of costume will limit his movements
plus there are very less loading opportunities in this type.
the other hand, an apparatus magician would like to dress in a more free style
which gives him a mystified expression. A mentalist may also perform shows with
ordinary street clothes, which will convince people more for it gives a more
realistic impression on the audiences.
Whatever type of illusion artist he is, whatever type costume he wears;
every magician feels the need of a designers touch to his costumes inevitably.
For further information to those interested in properties of a magical costume,
the writer suggests them to read the eighth to tenth pages of "Professor
Haffmann's Modern Magic" under the title Magician's Dress". No
quotation taken here, for it will exceed the aim of this paper.
Stage design for an illusionists is double
folded. First the design of the appearance of the stage to the audiences
second the design of the acts on the stage which the performer will act on
performance-which is in a sense regarded as choreography. It will be far more
than designers responsibility. On the other hand, stage design needs a designer
both in preparation of the decorations and the placement of
apparatus. On the stage. In fact this is the last of all steps that the designer
is needed for usually the programmes will change twice or thrice a year (not
valid for Turkey). In most cases the stage design is not needed in illusion if
the artist has a small part in a cabaret programme.
As a summary of these ideas, an illusion artist needs a designer in stage
design as an advisor. The artist then evaluates the critics of the designer to
perform better performances.
: Probably no single word in the vocabulary of magicians use it better known
than "gimmick". In fact it is a slang for "hidden thing".
But we may formulate it in this way: Any small device used secretly by a
magician in performing a trick.
: It is a device seen by the
audience but having a special secret duty.
: In short; a gimmick is a secret
device never seen by the audience; a fake is a device seen by the audience, but
: It is a secret compartment which is usually removable which is used to
conceal an object in something else. Such as a silk in a glass of milk.
1989 Catalogue. London,
FREDERICK, Guy. 101 Magic Tricks.
Piccolo, London, 1975
HAY, Henry. The Amateur Magician's Handbook.
N.Y. , N.Y. , USA, 1983
ISINBARK Ertugrul. Sihirbazlık
ve İllüzyon Hünerleri. 1985
Modern Magic Dover Pub. Inc.
, N.Y. , USA. 1980
Bill. Magic Comedy David Mc. Kay;
N.Y. , USA, 1970
TATLIDİKEN, Işik. Bütün İncelikleriyle Sihirbazlık Sanatı
Güneş Yay. İstanbul, 1981
WHITE, B.Jr. So You Want to be a Magician