For decades, slightly cheesy sleight-of-hand artists around the world have promised that "you won't believe your eyes!" before demonstrating ageless moves handed down from generation to generation.
Now that an ever-accelerating cascade of eye-popping visual technology such as augmented reality has threatened to steal some of the magic dust from old-fashioned magicians, along comes a pasteboard prestidigitator who folds augmented reality into his own YouTube-ready routine.
Enter Marco Tempest, a renegade cardsharp and AR artist who assembled an open-source, real-time theater of the future for your entertainment, called Augmented Reality Magic 1.0.
Is this, ladies and gentlemen, magic of the future?
Demonstrated as a live picture-in-picture performance, a begoggled Marco Tempest simultaneously addresses us while we get his POV performance on the table. We see what he sees as the cards he deals become enchanted, dance, animate, disappear, and even sink beneath the surface of the mat. An artful combination of virtual and real moves, the routine also manages to capture the same level of semi-hokey, semi-masterful showmanship that's been the aesthetic of close-up magic since Dai Vernon, and well before. Adding tech hasn't changed the style of the show.
So, is this what magic kits will consist of in the year 2014--goggles, a camera, and a deck of coded cards? It certainly suggests that we're about to enter a fascinating (and slightly terrifying) new age where nothing that you see--even live footage--will be able to be truly trusted.
Magicians (if you're out there), does this excite you or disappoint you? Laymen, you can also sound off below.