Secular Magic and the Moving Image: Mediated Forms and Modes of Reception

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 27 Jun 2019
The power of the moving image to conjure marvelous worlds has usually been to understand it in terms of 'move magic'. On film, a fascination for enchantment and wonder has transmuted older beliefs in the supernatural into secular attractions. But this study is not about the history of special effects or a history of magic. Rather, it attempts to determine the influence and status of secular magic on television within complex modes of delivery before discovering interstices with film. Historically, the overriding concern on television has been for secular magic that informs and empowers rather than a fairytale effect that deceives and mystifies. Yet, shifting notions of the real and the uncertainty associated with the contemporary world has led to television developing many different modes that have become capable of constant hybridization. The dynamic interplay between certainty and indeterminacy is the key to understanding secular magic on television and film and exploring the interstices between them. Sexton ranges from the real-time magic of street performers, such as David Blaine, Criss Angel, and Dynamo, to Penn and Teller's comedy magic, to the hypnotic acts of Derren Brown, before finally visiting the 2006 films The Illusionist and The Prestige. Each example charts how the lack of clear distinctions between reality and illusion in modes of representation and presentation disrupt older theoretical oppositions. Secular Magic and the Moving Image not only re-evaluates questions about modes and styles but raises further questions about entertainment and how the relations between the program maker and the audience resemble those between the conjuror and spectator. By re-thinking these overlapping practices and tensions and the marking of the indeterminacy of reality on media screens, it becomes possible to revise our understanding of inter-medial relations.
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ISBN-13: 9781501353895
ISBN-10: 1501353896
Pagini: 192
Dimensiuni: 152 x 229 x 15 mm
Greutate: 0.26 kg
Editura: Bloomsbury Publishing
Colecția Bloomsbury Academic
Locul publicării: New York, United States


Contributes to debates about medium specificity, specifically the modes of liveness and spectacle, and how the relationship between them has been made more complex by recent medium convergence

Notă biografică

Max Sexton is a lecturer at the University of Surrey, where he currently teaches film and television theory, and an independent scholar. After working in British television, he completed an MA History of Film and Visual Media and a PhD. He is currently interested in the links between aesthetics and technology, the de-stabilization of genre and inter-medial areas between film and television, including debates about the use of live performance and special effects. He co-authored Adapting Science Fiction to Television: Small Screen, Expanded Universe (2015) with Malcolm Cook.


Introduction1. Magic, Mediation, and Television Form2. Magic and Entertainment3. Magic and Performance4. Magic as a Game5. The Magic FilmConclusionFilmographyBibliographyIndex


Sexton's incisive investigation into secular magic on television gives a valuable account of this often ignored popular entertainment. In doing so it provides a gateway to examine and re-evaluate key terms of television studies, including liveness and immediacy, quality, and realism. Going beyond televised magic as a genre, it raises crucial questions about the everyday and the role of mediation in our conception of truth, reality, and identity. Sexton revives neglected magicians like Chan Canasta and David Nixon, provides new insights into the famous work of David Copperfield, David Blaine and Derren Brown, and opens discussion of the next-generation magic of Criss Angel and Dynamo. A consideration of recent Hollywood magic films engages timely questions regarding computer graphics technology and illusion. The arguments made are supported by insightful close analyses of magic performances that reveal how changes in magic and its performance communicate developments film and television history.
Max Sexton's book does more than analyse the representation of magic on television and film, it explores the essence of illusion and how this helps us understand the qualities of these media. This lucid work shows how the performance of magic in-front of the camera disrupts our understanding of the real, and guides us towards a new understanding of authenticity. A fascinating book that uses its focus on 'secular magic' to deliver a remarkable breadth of insight into major issues of television and film studies.