Friday, September 1, 2017

The Marvellous Orange Tree and Magic.

Occultus is very much to do with that blurry line between magic tricks and actual magic.  One of the magic tricks I most enjoy is that of magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, a French magician in the 1800s.  Robert-Houdin went to university, his father wanting him to be a lawyer, but he wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a watchmaker. His excellent penman ship got him a job as a law clerk and he continued to tinker with gadgets.  His employer sent him home and he became an apprentice to his watchmaking cousin as his father had retired.  In the mid 1820s he had sent away for a set of books called Traite de l'horoplogerie, written by Ferdinand Berthoud, on watch making.  When the books arrived they were the wrong books, instead he had received a set of two volumes on magic called Scientific Amusements. From these volumes, which he decided to keep, he learnt magic.  Robert-Houdin is widely considered the father of modern conjuring.

I think the most amazing thing about The Marvellous Orange Tree magic trick is the way that Robert-Houdin was able to us horology and magic to create an automata that seemed like a blooming orange tree with oranges that were picked and eaten as they grew in front of the audiences eyes. The trick was used in the movie The Illusionist (2006), however the actual trick by Robert-Houdin has never truly been replicated.  So the line between a magic trick and real magic can sometimes seem blurred.  That's a delicious thought though..what if what we think is a clever trick is actually magic. 

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