Last Tuesday, I had an amazing time with Associate Professor Eddie Tong and a couple of friends (who were also his students) at Timbre@Substation. Prof Eddie was my supervisor for my Honours Thesis on Pride and Helping Behaviours. It was a very fruitful experience working with an expert in the field of emotions.
Being extremely keen on the emotion of amazement, I decided to do a couple of close-up magic effects for the gang.
(Picture Credits to Liyun and Regina, thanks!)
I eventually did a mind-reading effect where I tried to deduce the card a person was thinking of. When I finally got the card right, Prof Eddie made a comment which made me think about the general perceptions of a layman towards magicians and psychologists. He said, “Wow, this is the real psychologist.”
Of course, one reason why he would say that is because of the common stereotype that psychologists can ‘read’ minds. I suspect this stereotype was derived from the research that psychologists produced in the academic field. We discover theories about human behaviours and these theories, in turn, allow practitioners to make predictions about what a person or a population might do given certain sets of conditions. In a similar vein, skilful and experienced magicians who understand human behaviour consistently make use of these theories to create that moment of wonder in their magic. As our experiences accumulate, we develop a keen sense of “stimulus and response” detection. Noticing and understanding these patterns allow us to perform moves that go undetectable, even under close scrutiny. For instance, appreciating the fact that humans have the tendency to think of events in linear and sequential terms (that is, A must happen before B can happen), the experienced magician is able to delay the moment of magic and allows the magic to be misattributed to a cause that has no real bearing on the actual magic itself. This is a partial explanation for the use of magic words and magic gestures.
I believe that the overlap between magic and psychology is significant but not yet fully explored. In the course of performing magic, I have noted several consistent human patterns which I eventually hope to share in the academic field.
All in all, it was an amazing evening (no pun intended). The food, the music, the magic and most of all, the people were awesome. I had a lot of fun performing for them in this slightly different bar setting at Timbre.
Speaking of bar settings, I will be performing my Close Up Theatre set at Bar 84 at Gallery Hotel this Saturday from 9pm till late. Come by and say hi if you are around the area ; )