Illusions – The Art of Magic

Some people prefer knowing the truth to wondering about all the possible answers and variations. Others prefer not knowing the truth and having some things veiled in mystery. A lot of things remain a mystery and probably will, due to the limitations of our current knowledge and research capabilities.

Some things, however, are known and people go to great lengths to learn new ones. Magic is one of those things. It is everywhere, from fairs, local shows to online casinos. 

A large part of magic is illusion, where people often lose track of what’s going on, they stop paying attention to the important things and magic can take place. Here is how illusion works and what it is all about.

Optical Illusions

These can be simple illusions, but can also be quite complex. These illusions involve our eyesight and the brain interpreting the information, trying to make sense of the world around us. The brain always wants to make sense, but when it sees conflicting visual information, it gets boggled and we see illusions, at least the optical kind.

These are important for studying how our brain works. The Moire effect, for example, is very interesting because we perceive various dots and shapes inside circles, with more shapes in between the circles, as moving, when they are actually still.

Neuroscience Steps In

Some answers, unlike others, can come from science. It is no longer magic if we can measure it and explain it, right? It is right to an extent. There is an experiment/illusion called the Standing Wave. Three bars of light, upwards, close to one another, flicker with light. We perceive all three of them. Once they move together, closer and closer, the bar in the middle should become invisible to our brain. The eyes keep perceiving all three. 

What happens here is that the brain that neurons suppress the middle bar because they are also reacting to the two outer bars, closing in. This way, the information doesn’t reach the conscious brain, sort of like misdirection.

Classic Misdirection – Look Over Here

MAgicians are very smart people who use their mastery of misdirection to divert our attention from something which is important, like a magic trick. This can have many forms. Social misdirection is one of the most often ones, using assistants and having audience members on stage, not to mention talking to the audience or using doves and other props.

Another way to divert attention is with the eyes. We as animals love eye contact and will follow what the magician’s eyes are doing. 

Then come the jokes. As soon as you start laughing, you will drop your guard and ta da, the trick has already been done and you blinked.

A Bit of Everything

Magical illusions are often a combination of optical illusions, combined with the way the brain perceives everything, not to mention the fact that the magician is actively trying to divert attention so that the magic can take place. While illusions can be of only a single sort, they are more often than not a combination of multiple things, as well as the audience’s willingness to look the other way, sometimes even on purpose.