John Walker's Electronic House

TED Is Magic

by on Oct.12, 2008, under The Rest

The archive of videos at the TED talk site is all the reason I will ever need to adore human beings. Great minds sharing ideas with other great minds, in all manner of fields, made available for less great minds to watch in wonder. After my chum Steph reminded me to delve back in once more, by linking me to the very short talk by wunder-artist Theo Jansen and his mechanical creatures, my evening was eaten by leaping from subject to subject, hoovering up information, music, and, er, beatbox.

Then on a whim I typed “magic” into their search box to see what they might have, and I found Swedish close-up magician Lennart Green. His half hour set is distinct from so many close-up card magicians by his wonderful performance predicated on deceptive clumsiness. Where most card magic relies on clean, crisp displays of digital dexterity, Green relies on cards falling everywhere, dropping them, seemingly making mistakes, and somehow out of this performing the most extraordinary card tricks I’ve ever seen. I suppose people might first think of Tommy Cooper, but that’s an inappropriate comparison. Cooper was a terrible magician, and while he would make lots of pretend mistakes and then reveal the real trick, they were all pretty average tricks. Green isn’t clumsy for pantomime. In fact, while it’s all part of his misdirection, you wonder looking at him – flop sweat and all – whether he really has any choice but to work this way.

It’s just stunning. His dexterity is a pleasure, hidden beneath his haphazard style. There’s something far more impressive about manipulating a deck when it’s sprawled and jumbled, rather than perfectly aligned. And there’s no “pick a card, any card” tedium here. It’s a man demonstrating remarkable skill, rather than tricking audience members. Plus you’ll be doing the wrist trick to everyone you know after you watch this.

4 Comments for this entry

  • The Poisoned Sponge

    That guy is a bit of a good magician… I must say.

  • Little Green Man

    Dang that’s pretty awesome, and I laughed…

  • Pace

    Thanks for the links, I’d never heard of TED before. The Swede was good for sure, but Craig Venter’s talk is the one that really got my attention. That’s just absolutely mind bogglingly world changing stuff, and sorry if this sounds a bit silly, but it seems to me like it may be mankind’s greatest hope for the future. It represents a whole type of technology far beyond what we’ve got now.

  • steph

    I got to bed far to late as a result of TED browsing on Sunday evening given the early o’clock of my flight on monday… So many great talks to find though!