Technology and Magic – Call for Papers

Call for Papers

 The Journal of Performance Magic: Technology and Magic Issue 

“Kurzweil holds that all technologies increase in performance exponentially – as computers have in the past 50 years. If so, then we will soon see technology and magic become more or less indistinguishable, and the future become so strange it is impossible to write about from this side of the event horizon.” Mark Stevenson – An Optimist’s Tour of the Future:

Performance Magic has a long and complex relationship with technology – using, resisting, denying, interpreting, challenging, enchanting, and demystifying technological advances. Magicians have often been inventors and innovators, most notably of film and media technologies, and have used emerging technologies both as a tool and as a source of stories and frameworks for performance. The relationship is often fraught, technology has exposed magic, and magic has debunked pseudo-science.

The next issue of The Journal of Performance Magic seeks papers that tackle the dance between technology and performance magic.

Topics include but are not limited to:

– Playing with technology in a theatrical space
– Playing with the theatrical in a technological space
– Sufficiently advanced magic
– Sufficient advanced technology
– Magic and futurology
– Luddite magic
– The technomagical

All contributions will be peer-reviewed subject to their acceptance. Full details can be found at

Please e-mail your contributions and/or queries to the editors Nik Taylor & Stuart Nolan (by 31st March 2015)

* Postponed* The Magic Menagerie – Todd Landman

Postponed  – The Magic Menagerie – Todd Landman

…truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion…’
-Tennessee Williams

Harking back to his youth growing up in Hemlock Hollow, Pennsylvania, Dr Todd Landman explores the notion of re-enchantment through the medium of magic and mind reading. His early days were spent as a young magician exploring the virtues of the Hollow while practising and honing his skills as a conjurer.

Re-enchanting the self…
His intellectual journey led him astray from these important roots, but through life in a small English village he finds them again and shares with you an extraordinary and inexplicable set of demonstrations that simply defy rational explanation.

Part conjuring, part autobiography, and all magic in its widest sense.

‘We all start knowing magic. We are born with the whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow path and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.’
-Robert R. McCammon

What is magic?
The setting is a 1930s front room, adorned with polished furniture filled with boxes, goblets, and objects from a bygone era. Questions are asked and themes are explored. From glass beads plucked from thin air to memories extracted from the deepest corners of your mind, from stories of 1900 London to Dante’s Inferno, from amazing close-up conjuring to the importance of community during World War II, The Magic Menagerie is a mélange of delightful deception that delves into life’s bittersweet moments.

What can you rediscover about yourself?
This is a different kind of magic, one borne of deep reflection and a commitment to understanding whether we can rediscover the ‘whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us.’


The Journal of Performance Magic – Issue Two

We are very pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of The Journal of Performance Magic!

Table of Contents;

Taylor, Nik and Nolan, Stuart Letter from the Editors. p. 1.
Kelly, Lynne Feminine Magic. pp. 2-7.
Bruns, Laura C. and Zompetti, Joseph P. The Rhetorical Goddess: A Feminist Perspective on Women in Magic. pp. 8-39.
Williams, Grace Alexandra Vanishing in Plain Sight. pp. 40-53.
Williams, Grace Alexandra Escamotage, 2014. pp. 54-58.
Taylor, Nik and Nolan, Stuart Call for papers. p. 5

Magic Lab (#2)

This fortnight’s Magic Lab was all about the freaky and spooky.  A slight detour from the main project, but that’s OK as it’s Halloween!  We looked at the fine art of needle swallowing, hammering six-inch nails in our heads and sticking large pointy things into (and out of) our skin).  We moved on to the more gentle art of the ideomotor response, and looked more generally at framing magic(k) in a more darker tradition.

All of this was a pre-cursor to my Research Seminar on Performing Séance. And a big ‘thank you’ to all that attended.  It was great to be able to finally ‘air’ the material.

And a extra big ‘thank you’ to Ashton Carter who stepped up to the mark and provided an impromptu demo of some of the material.*

Next week we’ll move back to the main project, and as a contrast, this means getting the playing cards out!

*Ashton Carter will be presenting our next Research Seminar on Immersive Horror Events: Immersion and Bizarre Magic on a Large Scale.  You don’t want to miss that!

Magic Lab (#1)

As part of my work at the University of Huddersfield I run a small project called ‘Magic Lab’.  Each year a group of students join me in exploring the principles and framing of performance magic.  It’s very informal and the structure (certainly early on) is deliberately loose to allow ideas and skills to develop freely.

We welcomed some new members this academic year and once the pledge was signed we began by looking at a simple coin trick and how through framing, narrative and psychology it can be transformed into magic.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this project develops this year!

As a pre-cursor to my talk on Performing Seance, our next workshop will be on the Spooky and the Macabre – entirely apt for Halloween.

Immersive Horror Events: Immersion and Bizarre Magic on a Large Scale. (Andy Cooper)

Magic Research Group –Research Seminars
27 November – 18:30–20:00

Over the past 20 years Andy has run large scale, weekend long, immersive horror events. Transforming old houses into strange places for guests to explore and discover family curses, strange magicks and horrific creatures. Atmosphere, FX, costume and props all help to create believable and immersive environments where the guests make the decisions and decide how the story ends. This talk will introduce the genre and show how he blends the techniques of Bizarre Magick in these weekends and how the events have influenced his magic and performance.

Andy has been running immersive events for over 20 years and performing as a magician, storyteller and mystery performer under his stage persona Ashton Carter for 10. Influenced by the weird fiction and ghost stories of the early 20th century, Victorian spiritualism and the paranormal in all its guises. Andy likes to blur the lines between performance and reality, inviting his audience to become part of the show and allowing them to discover and explore as well as being entertained.

These informal Research Seminars will be held at:
The University of Huddersfield
Division of Drama (Milton Building)
Queensgate, Huddersfield.

All Welcome. Admission is free, but please contact The Box Office: to book a place.

Performing Séance: Four Steps to Collective Delusion. (Nik Taylor)

Magic Research Group –Research Seminars
30 October 18:30–20:00

This seminar will focus on the performance practice of the paranormal entertainer and the creation, through trickery, of a visceral experience of the other within the performance space. Borrowing from the folklore notion of ostension and by examining the staging of collective delusion; the presentation will examine what happens when the disillusionment is taken out of performance magic, that is, when magic is performed as real within the framing of a séance.

Nik Taylor is coordinator of the Magic Research Group and co-editor of The Journal of Performance Magic. A Paranormal Entertainer himself, Nik will bring along some of the props from his own séance show.

These informal Research Seminars will be held at:
The University of Huddersfield
Division of Drama (Milton Building)
Queensgate, Huddersfield.

All Welcome. Admission is free, but please contact The Box Office: to book a place.

Call for Papers – Journal of Performance Magic

Call for Papers – Journal of Performance Magic – Second Issue – Autumn  2014

The Journal of Performance Magic is a new bi-annual, peer-reviewed online publication from The University of Huddersfield Press.  (ISSN 2051-6037)

The Journal will focus on a multidisciplinary and contemporary approach to the field of Performance Magic; covering its influence, legacy and future on wider performing arts practice and other diverse academic disciplines.  In recent years the academic study of performance magic has made exciting creative links within emerging disciplines; such links include the cognitive sciences, architectural design, and emerging technologies.  The Journal of Performance Magic seeks to strengthen these links as well as encourage reflection on areas of performance magic not already covered in publication and develop new perspectives on areas already heavily researched.

The Journal of Performance Magic is intended to serve a wide and international academic and non-(traditional) academic community, and invites contributions from researchers and practitioners throughout the world and from a wide range of disciplines. Contributions will be welcomed from areas including but not exclusively; performance training, psychology, scripting, scenographic, cultural studies, philosophy, neuroscience invention/application, magic technology, ethics, narrative/story-telling, theme parks.

Articles of up to 9000 words might address, but are no means limited to, the following broad areas;

Frameworks; what are the most suitable academic tools and frameworks for interrogating performance magic?

  • Challenges; and how is magic responding to the challenges? Innovations; what is changing in our perception of performance magic? what is new? what is driving change?
  • Directions; where is the study of performance magic heading?
  • Technologies and responses to performance magic; both as creative drivers and problems?
  • Networks (where is performance magic situated?)

All contributions will be peer-reviewed subject to their acceptance.  Full details can be found at

Please e-mail your contributions and/or queries to the editors Nik Taylor & Stuart Nolan (by 1st July 2014)

Based in the Division of Drama at The University of Huddersfield.