A magician debunks the Great Wall of Drumpf

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/20/a-magician-debunks-the-great-w.html


I’m thinking the silhouettes were projections and he really just walked around back.

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I think the silhouettes were a projection as well, or he wouldn’t have tried so hard to prove they were real by sticking his head out at the beginning. However, in theory he had members of the audience watching from around back, so I’m guessing a trap door in the floor. Or simply a way to open the wall that the audience members who felt it couldn’t discover (but one that would be too obvious if his real shadow were projected).

I mean… wait… were supposed to be talking about the message, right?


You can also see in some of those camera angles that the magic cabinets don’t necessarily meet the back of the wall. The fronts of them do look like projections or screens rather than back lit shadows. So the wall is likely gimmicked in some way. It’d be trivial to hide a hatch of some sort in that prop. Even solid enough for the observers to not catch it. I’m not great at figuring these sorts of things out. But I think the apparatus is doing all the work here, its not particularly clever or impressive prestidigitation. In fact that little bit of forced prospective at the end is better magic.

But as a quick way to put together an impressive trick with a specific message? Its pretty damn clever. Its not like he had years to develop it, he performs it well, and it makes his point really well. So he gets high fives.

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The silhouettes aren’t projections: there are real people inside the boxes. Two of them, in fact. The lighting is essentially conical and forms a pair of dead zones at the back of each box where a person can hide. When the magician enters the first box, he hides in the rightmost dead zone and a double’s shadow appears: watch when he leans out of the box to wave and then pulls back inside — the timing is off by a fraction of a second so the shadow doesn’t quite match up with the reality of the movement.

Now for some guesswork. I have to assume that the magician simply exits the back of the Mexico box, sidles around the wall, and enters through the back of the US box into the rightmost dead zone: note how the seating is arranged to give only a narrow viewing angle for the audience (who I assume are real). The “audience members” positioned around the illusion are plants, of course. Then the magician gradually emerges from the dead zone into the light, and that’s the most beautifully executed part of the entire thing: the double in the Mexico box apparently does a carefully choreographed handstand into the leftmost dead zone to make it appear as if he’s sliding through the wall, and the magician has folded himself double and does an equally choreographed set of movements, timed to the music, to emerge into the cone of light as if he’s sliding out of the wall. It’s absolutely gorgeous and must have taken an enormous amount of practice.


If there were doubles in the box, and the wall is solid, then how do these two images work?

Sure, it’s possible using perfectly positioned light-sources and hand-stands and what-not, but it seems so much easier just to use projections.

Another advantage of projections is that you can skew them perfectly, so the light source could be up by the ceiling, pointing almost straight down, giving the magician much more room inside the box without casting a shadow.

Also, the observers behind are the same audience members who felt the wall. If they’re plants, then easier just to rig the wall. If it wasn’t plants who felt the wall, then you need some other way of getting round the wall. (My money is still on “rigged wall, but hard to detect.”)

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