Magician Marco Tempest’s illusions embrace screens, augmented reality, robotics and software

[From Wired]

Marco Tempest makes open-source magic for the 21st century

By Charlie Burton
03 January 12

Magic tricks depend on secrecy. So it might seem counterintuitive that Marco Tempest — a Swiss-born magician living in New York — has gone open-source. He reveals his methods, talks to his audiences online and asks for feedback. “If someone has a good idea, I put it in my show and give credit,” says Tempest, 46.

His illusions embrace screens, augmented reality, robotics and software (which he makes available to download for free), and familiar magic props. In his “magic projection” trick (pictured), balls appear to move between the real and virtual worlds.

He describes his act as “sustained magic”. Rather than a moment of revelation, in which, say, the correct card is called, there is a continuously magical experience. “It’s not what you’d expect from a magician, but it works. For [an illusion involving three iPhones] I removed all the ‘big magic’ such as the iPhones disappearing at the end, because you just end up going, ‘How did he do that one?’, instead of, ‘Oh I’ve never thought that deception could be something good.’” Still, traditional magic is woven into his shows — only unannounced. “When the audience isn’t really sure — ‘was that a shuffling thing or the computer?’ — then it’s working.”

Tempest used to be a conventional magician. But he decided that, in the web era, this would be a dangerous career decision. “The audience will figure out your tricks on the internet,” he says. “If the only thing you’re offering is, ‘How did I do that?’, it’s over. Magic is about having a relationship with your audience. So this approach is perfect.”

Tempest’s top tech tricks [videos]

Three-iPhone routine:
Using sleight of hand and video across three iPhones, Tempest tells a story of deception.

Magic Slate:
Projection mapping and position detection let Tempest draw figures that come to life.

Cards revealed:
As Tempest performs a card trick, AR annotations show the viewer what he really sees.

Phonecam magic:
Tempest takes to the streets and performs illusions filmed with his phone’s camera.


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