When a magician gives a presentation at TED or its independently-organized offshoot TEDx, they usually incorporate tricks as a way to segue into an unrelated inspirational or philosophical message. Scottish illusionist Elliot Bibby drops the pretense from his TEDx talk at Edinburgh Napier University in April 2017, and focuses strictly on magic and what it means to him.
In the 12 minute video above, Elliot performs some card magic, then relates a few stories about how his job allows him to bring joy and laughter to people’s lives. Magic isn’t just about impressing people, it’s about giving them memories to cherish—sometimes that’s all the message you need.
There’s an adage known as Sturgeon’s Law, coined by sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon, which states (in paraphrase) that 90% of everything—be it movies, books, music, or yes, even magic tricks—is crap. In a TED talk back in 2014, magician Helder Guimarães tries to find out why that’s the case. To do this, he uses a deck of cards, a dollar bill, a stuffed giraffe, and the audience’s participation.
To him, the reason why most creations aren’t good is because “we stop thinking too soon.” He expands on this, first by performing a failed magic trick, and then telling stories about the power of secrets and coincidence, eventually tying these tricks together into a cohesive narrative. Spending time to draw out that hidden potential is vital in any creative field, and here, what began as a crappy trick is now turned on its head, and has become art.