This week Greg Rostami joins Jonah to talk about creating, performing, and utilizing app magic. Greg is a prominent app magic creator, known for creating apps like ReaList and Inject.
A Svengali Deck was Greg’s intro to magic. He was fascinated by the concept and was pulled into magic because of the clever nature of the art. Closeup magic became the style he loved and would perform it wherever he could.
With a background in electrical engineering, Greg started out with the idea of creating magic hardware. His focus shifted from hardware to software with the release of the iPhone; Greg became focused on using features fundamental to technology and exploiting the tech for magical effects. In 2009, this would lead to the launch of his and Randy Croucher’s app iForce.
There seems to be a hesitation among magicians to use app magic. People think it’s too complicated. Others are afraid that people will see right through the effect and immediately know it’s the app. For those who find apps complicated, Greg understands. The issue with feature-rich apps is that they can be overwhelming, so focus on finding one aspect to learn. What part of the app can you adapt to your performance now? What intrigues you? Don’t focus on mastering everything the app can do.
If your afraid people will know the method, think of it like learning about a thumb tip. You can be fooled by someone making a silk disappear into a thumb tip, but when you learn that it’s just a fake thumb for the method, you might wonder how it would fool anyone. Even though you were just fooled. Apps are similar. Greg recommends finding the apps that don’t smell of technology and then building presentations around the ones you like. You’ll soon find that performing app magic is as seamless as borrowing a spectator’s phone.
Swiss Army Applications
Acknowledging that presentation wise he’s creatively limited, Greg sets out to create apps that are tools rather than single effects; he wants to create versatile apps that magicians can play with and adapt to their style. With this in mind, Greg focuses on speed and ease. He doesn’t want there to be long-winded presentations inherently designed into the app because strolling magicians want a tool that is ready to go and let them move on to the next group.
By offering a myriad of features that act more as a foundation than as single effects, Greg invites performers to play and experiment with his app.
Everything you do in magic needs to be motivated. This doesn’t stop when your magic tool is an app. You have to figure out why your spectator is accessing Google or even pulling out their phone. If you want the spectator to completely dismiss the idea that you were using technology to pull off your effect, you can’t draw a line from A to B.
Gui Del Frate
What do you like about magic? What don’t you like?
Greg loves that magic is an evolving art form that takes existing premises and pushes the boundaries of presentation and method. The current innovation amazes and excites him.
He isn’t a fan of how we tend to take things for granted nowadays. It took us years to get to where we are, yet we can dismiss these innovative thoughts by swiping away without a second thought.
Take Home Point
If you can find motivation in your repertoire in including something that requires the internet, then app magic is amazing. Your spectator walks away with a souvenir on their device. Greg also reminds you that motivation in your performance is key.