Where Magic and Warfare Meet

EMHC Vienna 2019 Head

Today’s the day! I am humbled and excited to speak at the 8th European Magic History Conference (EMHC) in Vienna, Austria. You can download the full program brochure here.

I’ll be pursuing some of the many roads where magic and warfare intersect, which is quite a fascinating and multi-layered topics. These aspects include

  • the surprisingly military lingo of magicians
  • the constant “wars” some magicians are fighting
  • some magicians who were also involved in military deception (like Robert-Houdin, Jasper Maskelyne, John Mulholland, and Barton Whaley)
  • how, particularly during the Second World War, entire “ghost armies” appeared and disappeared; trucks turned into tanks and vice versa; dummy planes, trains, tanks and explosive sheep (!) helped to mislead or surprise the enemy; and deception plans were used successfully in at least five major operations of the War
  • the fact that the concept of deception has been rooted deeply in strategic and tactical warfare for thousands of years
  • the main similarities and differences between military deception and our friendly art of deception for entertainment purposes
  • some magic victims of warfare and
  • some truly “magical” war anecdotes.

I have read and acquired way too much material to put it all into my 25 minute presentation, so I guess I’ll be sharing quite a few bits and pieces here over time. Stay tuned!

Here’s my favorite picture from the presentation:

TankIllusion


 

 

20th Anniversary of France’s Maison de la Magie

Blois

This comes a bit late, but I’m going to mention it anyhow because more people should know about it. Last year, the Magic Museum of Blois, France celebrated its 20th anniversary. Its full name reads “Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin Blois”, and it was established in appreciation of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, commonly and affectionately known as “the father of modern magic” (which is at least partly true), in his hometown of Blois.

The museum does not only feature the life and art of Robert-Houdin; it covers magic’s rich history as well as automata and props. Harry Houdini, both Houdin’s epigone and nemesis, is portrayed here as well. Outside, every half hour a huge mechanical dragon with six heads makes his appearance at the museum’s windows. In addition, there are regular live performances of magicians plus special exhibitions inside. The next one will feature “Optical Fascinations”, starting on April 6th and running until September 22nd.

On occasion of the 20th anniversary, several magical “zero Euro” souvenir bills (the latest hoot for currency collectors) have been issued in 2018, one of them featuring Robert-Houdin in front of the Museum:

RH0

For more information on the Maison de la Magie (in English and French), click here.

Deutschsprachige Informationen gibt es hier.