The greatest magicians have always blurred magic with technological and scientific discovery. At its most successful, this means audiences have no idea where science and technology end and the illusion begins. Equally the greatest magicians, such as Robert Houdin, have often been masters of the leading technology of their age.
This legacy has not continued with modern magic. Yet there has never been a greater availability of digital products, or an easier time to learn how to make them. The rise of the ‘maker movement’ means there is a readily available source of hardware, knowledge and expertise that is not taken advantage of by the modern magic community. At the same time, audiences have never been more accustomed or accepting of technology as a cause for events.
During his residency, Keiron planned to research the synergies and opportunities between magic and the maker movement, encouraging practising magicians to take advantage of the affordances and availability of digital technologies, such as microcontrollers and sensors, to create a new era of open source magic products. Drawing on our present societal narrative of technological and scientific progression, Kieron also suggested new presentational frames that enable audiences to believe in magic again.
Kieron Kirkland is a professional magician, technologist, theatre practitioner and researcher with a significant performing history including close-up and stage (Globe Theatre, Tobacco Factory, Punchdrunk, Stand and Stare). He has also worked as ASM for Derren Brown. He is an experienced researcher working with innovative applications of current and emerging digital technologies (researcher at Futurelab, and currently Development Research Manager for Nominet Trust).
Kieron Kirkland and fellow resident Stuart Nolan were supported by the Magician in Residence scheme, co-hosted by Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio and The Bristol Interaction and Graphics Group in the Computer Science Department of the University of Bristol. Beginning on 1 Oct 2013 and lasting for two months, the residencies culminated in a public showcase event at Watershed in December.