Recently moved some boxes from storage and in going through them I came across several packs of old photographs. There are quite a few taken at various magic conventions and events I’ve attended over the years. I’ll probably post the odd one here from time to time as I have a moment to scan them. Here’s one of me giving some up-and-coming magician a few tips on his cup-and-ball routine…

We had a great time at the IBM British Ring Convention, and while we were there Traudel took loads of great photographs of the personalities and events. I’ve taken a few of these and put them together in short video which I hope will give some flavour of the Convention.

Many thanks to Traudel Albrecht for the photographs. The music, incidentally, is taken from our Magick Media Studio package. This includes 101 tracks of professional, royalty-free music in a wide variety of styles (nearly two hours altogether) which can be used in your projects without copyright problems. Ideal for cabaret, illusion, children’s entertainers, promotional video, websites, etc. There are multiple lengths and mixes, including stingers and loops.

We’ve even supplied a free audio editor for looping, re-timing, adding effects, and so on. Plus eight videos which teach you the basics of simple audio editing. A sound purchase at £20! (Anyone who has ever bought royalty-free music will know what a bargain that is.)

Still unpacking after Southport, but just a note for card guys: We now have supplies of Bicycle Vintage 1800, Raider, Scorpion, Spider, Propaganda, Purple, Violet, etc., plus Stud, Aristocrat Casino, Bee Club Specials, Colossal (the no-palming version, Andy), Piatnik ESP. And more. Stocks of some items are limited.

Well, it’s Friday 31 July, the final day of the 24th FISM World Championships of Magic in Beijing. At least I haven’t all that packing up to do. Missed it though.

We had confirmation yesterday that the next FISM, in 2012, will be in Blackpool. This was a pretty foregone conclusion as there were no other host applications, although I’d heard that the actual Convention location might have been Manchester rather than Blackpool itself. Certainly the Blackpool guys have had plenty of experience in organising a major magic convention so we’re looking forward to a good one. Hear, too, that over 400 tickets have already been sold!

Grand Prix winners this year are Soma (Hungary) for stage and Shawn Farquhar (Canada) for close-up. Magick regulars may recall I met and interviewed Shawn in Stockholm at the last FISM. See PrestiDigital 4 for his convention survival tips.

Soma performing his famous ‘phone manipulation act.

I understand Shawn’s act was based on his well-known Shape of my Heart routine.

I’m also pleased to bring you the news that First Prize in the Parlour Magic section went to Marc Oberon. Loungers will recall that Marc lectured here at the Magick Lounge a few months ago, opening with an extended version of of his ‘midas’ act which he performed in Beijing. (Love the expression parlour magic, incidentally — image of a performer with a pristine dicky performing amid antimacassars and aspidistras. Maybe more of us need to get in touch with our inner Hoffmann…)

Click here for a full winners’ list. The Genii Forums are worth checking out for some interesting FISM reports. Also keep an eye on FISM’s new website. I quote:

FISM™ is pleased to announce the launch of the new FISM™ website. This new portal is gathering all previous FISM™ websites in one single location. It has been designed to provide the users with everything that is relevant to FISM™ through a modern and user-friendly environment.

The new FISM™ website offers a wide range of materials, including background information about the history of FISM™, members and competitions as well as detailed explanation of the FISM™ statutes and management. An extensive set of links leads the users to the FISM™ store, TV and Video section and social networks such as facebook and myspace. It also gives them direct access to the websites of their each national FISM™ clubs. In addition, users can subscribe to the newsletter to be at the cutting edge of all topics related to FISM™. The new website will be the first important step to unify all the information in one place.

Saturdays in the Magick Lounge can be relied upon to cover a wide range of subjects of conversation. This week, perhaps as a result of matters arising from Marc Oberon’s lecture, a few of us fell to talking about the performance of magic. Which reminded me of something I touched upon in a recent PrestiDigital editorial.

I think we sometimes forget that the performance of a magic trick isn’t itself entertaining to most people.

The phrase ‘magic trick’ is perhaps something of an oxymoron. A trick isn’t magical, and more than it is generally entertaining. The entertainment in our craft — I hesitate to call it an art, for reasons I could easily return to with the minimum of encouragement — comes from the magic, not the trick.

Anyone can demonstrate — even perform — a trick; few can perform magic. Anyone who doesn’t understand what I mean should go to YouTube, type in the word ‘magic’ and wait for ennui to encompass. (I could put some links in here, but wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone who may grow out of it. Perhaps we should hope that they find the love of a good woman who will gently point out the error of their ways and lead them henceforth into honourable and useful employment. But maybe they’d have to ditch the card tricks first.)

Who is at fault. The dealers? We wish to sell our wares so we present them in the best light, and in the way we think will appeal to potential purchasers. Surely it should be enough to outline the effect as seen by an audience, and leave the customer/performer to make his decision based on whether that will fit his style and his act? Probably, and most dealers would go quickly broke if they operated on that basis.

We’re buying dreams (‘magic’?) to some extent, of course. In my teens when I first started to read magic catalogues and then attend conventions I read descriptions and watched demonstrations. And their power depended on their ability to trigger my mental ‘magician fantasies’. I wanted to be Channing Pollock, and later Chan Canasta. Of course most of us grow out of that, although perhaps not entirely as there’s an important aspirational element too.

Now, of course, we have even more powerful fantasy-triggering techniques. I’d always prefer to make a decision about buying a prop or trick based on reading a good description than watching a demonstration, but perhaps that’s just me. Now we have websites with MTV style performances — selling the sizzle rather than the sausage? Has the medium truly become the message?

Answers on a postcard… or just press the Comments link.