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!

Coin trick

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)

Ideomotor Responses, Uncommon Coding, Wobbly Interfaces, and Mind Reading Birds.


Saturday 5th April – 10.00-4.00

Ideomotor Responses, Uncommon Coding, Wobbly Interfaces, and Mind Reading Birds

From early Roman divination, Victorian spirit theatre and dowsing to mindreading, Ouija boards and the sexing of chickens, the Ideomotor Response has played an important role in ritual and performance. Current cognitive science is now revealing the fundamental role Ideomotor Responses play in learning, communication, and physical development.

This day-long workshop builds on the history and science of the Ideomotor Response to explore new approaches to performance, physical interaction, game design, and the development of new technologies for interaction.

To say this is a hand-on workshop would be a massive understatement. Please come ready to experiment, to play, to succeed, to fail, to wobble and to resonate.

Stuart Nolan is a Magician in Residence at Pervasive Media Studio and The University of Bristol Computer Science Department where he develops friendly mindreading robots ( IdeoBird and OuijaBird were recently featured on the BBC Click Christmas Special ( and The Guardian (

As a former NESTA Fellow in Applied Magic he is credited with bringing the study of deception out of the lab and into the everyday world. He combines his skills in traditional disciplines of deception with original research into how we are deceived by language and physical gesture. He recently deceived over 700 organisations just to prove a point ( Stuart spent the summer of 2012 performing in a travelling Boxing Booth throughout the fairs and country shows of the North of England and exhibiting The Strange Thing. He is a co-editor of the Journal of Performance Magic (

Although aimed at performers, this interdisciplinary workshop will be of interest to artists, designers, psychologists, educators, scientists, and anyone interested in the application of Ideomotor Response.

This is a free event and places are limited, reserve your place at

For further information please contact

Twitter: @MagicResGrp



Events for 2013 (updated)

We’re pleased to announce a packed programme of events for the 2013.

Luke Jermay: Sixth Sense – Friday, 4 October 2013 @19:30

Luke JermayLuke Jermay is the most incredible man you’ve probably never heard of. He can read your mind. No really; he can read your mind. He doesn’t use mind games or psychological tricks, he is not a magician; there are no smoke and mirrors. He can simply read your mind. His awe inspiring intuitive abilities have gained him high profile fans such as Derren Brown, Dynamo and Uri Geller who all agree Jermay’s abilities are unequalled.

Tickets: £8 / £5 conc. Email to reserve your tickets.

Dr Todd Landman ~ Academic Magician ~ Presents Lifting the Veil of Ignorance – Saturday, 26 October 2013 @19:30

Todd Landman

An amazing show where The Da Vinci Code meets The Dead Poets Society and The Paper Chase…

Projecting himself into the shared ‘community of human minds’, the Academic Magician explores a variety of themes and perennial questions that are just as important today as they were when first raised by ancient philosophers.  Todd Landman probes deep questions about how we know what we know through a variety of mesmerising and inexplicable feats, combined with a mirthful style of presentation that will be sure to entertain you.

Tickets £5 / £3 conc.  Email to reserve your tickets

Ashton Carter – Friday, 15 November 2013 @ 19.30

Ashton CarterAshton Carter presents his current bizarre magic show. Combining his love of storytelling, stage magic, family history and the paranormal; Ashton will give rare access to some of the objects he has collected over the years.  Influenced by the ghost stories and weird fiction of the early 20th century, 19th century spiritualism and the paranormal; ancient objects will show their secret powers, spirits and entities from other worlds will make their presence felt and colourful members of Ashton’s family tree show that things are not always as they seem.

The show is highly interactive and ticket numbers will be limited. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Tickets £5 / £3 conc. Email to reserve your tickets

An Evening with Harry Houdini – A lecture by Master Locksmith, Mick Hanzlik. – Postponed

Mick thumbA UK authority on the life and work of Escapologist Harry Houdini, Mick Hanzlik is a Master Locksmith, and Associate of the Inner Magic Circle (Silver Star and was recently invited to give a presentation at the World Escape Artists’ Convention in Los Angeles.  His presentation includes a Houdini biography, illustrated with many photographs, and also movie clips of Houdini “in action” Also included will be demonstrations of a few of Houdini’s handcuff escapes.


Looking forward to seeing you!

Applied Magic – Day Workshop

Applied Magic: Day Workshop

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Performance Magic Research Group
The University of Huddersfield
Department of Drama

Saturday 8th June – 10.00-4.00

Over the past decade there has been a renewed interest in the academic study of performance magic. A large part of this interest is in how magic can be used to study other fields including psychology, neuroscience, and the physiology of vision. Outside of academia the techniques of performance magic are being applied in business development, sales and marketing, visual design, medicine, interrogation, sport coaching, futurology, product design, branding, and seduction.

This day will explore the field of Applied Magic through case studies, demonstrations and training in relevant aspects of both physical and psychological deception. We will look at recent applications of both Cold Reading and Attention Management Training and ask how academia should research, support, critique, and benefit from these innovations in the field.

The day will be facilitated by Stuart Nolan from Hex Induction.

Hex Induction was founded in 2002 when Stuart Nolan was awarded a NESTA Fellowship to apply the techniques of performance magic to other fields. In the past decade this has included work for clients in education, futurology, installation art, sport coaching, innovation, fashion design, heritage, software design, architecture, game design, storytelling, pervasive media design, creative management, and organisational psychology. Hex Induction is currently working with BBC R&D on an experimental perceptive media production of The War of the Worlds and creating a Future of Deception project launch for the NESTA 2050:Possible Worlds event in Autumn 2013.

This is a free event and places are limited, please email Nik Taylor to reserve your place.

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