Our guest this week is Glenn West. Glenn is a fantastic magician who started his love affair with magic after being introduced to the craft by his father. Magic is constant presence in his life though he is not a working magician. Instead, he works as an animator in film and television. Glenn’s magic is very visual and in your face and has a huge ‘wow’ factor. His love of magic is directly related to his passion for film.
In this episode Glenn, Tyler and I talk about the morality of magic. Specifically, whether its right to lie to a crowd. Glenn alludes to the Penn and Teller school of thought on this question. The audience should never leave a show believing in something about the world that isn’t true. The difference between creating illusions on screen and illusions in a magic performance is that there is a willing suspension of disbelief in the cinema that may not exist in a magic show. Glenn believes that magic occurs in the mind of the audience.
Glenn thinks that magic is a free market and protecting tricks is difficult when it takes tons of money to protect your intellectual property. That impulse to protect our IP contrasts markedly with cardistry which is very open source.
Our chat shifted to a conversation about how the coming automation revolution is going to wipe out large sectors of the economy. I talked about the example of Wolfram Alpha, a computational search engine that has become so good it has rendered computational mathematicians largely obsolete. Glenn believes that careers based on artistry and creativity will be among the few that will survive in the future. Magic being one of them. (So long as society doesn’t collapse)
Technology has also changed the way young people are learning magic. Most of us saw a trick when we were young and then went out and bought a magic book. Now younger magicians go straight to YouTube. This has presented a huge opportunity for magicians. I think there is a new land grab underway in spaces like Instagram Stories and Snapchat. Whoever gets there first is going to create an entirely new and very different career. But does that mean you have to focus more on quantity over quality?
We have had most of Glenn’s friends on the podcast already but after pressing him he suggested we reach out Xavier Spade who we all agree has been doing some really interesting stuff.
I continue to rant about the importance of creating as much content on as many platforms as possible. Tyler thinks the conversation about the suspension of disbelief in film as compared to stage magic was particularly compelling. Glenn, meanwhile, found the conversation about Instagram Stories and other social media inspiring
Glenn’s passion project A Series of Unfortunate Effects combined his love of filmmaking and magic. He demands that you all watch it immediately.