Magic: The Science of Wonder

Ed. Note: Scott Cervine is the guest curator for the new exhibit Magic: The Science of Wonder, opening Friday,  Feb. 26, 2010 at HMNS – and this is the first post in a series he’ll be sharing with us here. In the days leading up to the opening and throughout the run of the exhibit check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display.

Learn more about the Magic exhibit
at the HMNS web site

Science is simple….it’s the study of the physical world through observation.

Wonder is a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful or inexplicable.

In a way, it’s Science that gives us the language to experience Wonder.  It’s the head on collision of the two that inspires an unexpected feeling within…that’s what magic is all about for me.

It’s no accident that Magic’s greatest innovators are often inventors or scientists first, then become smitten with their own feeling of amazement and want to share it with a larger audience.

The first time I stepped onto the stage at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood I was fifteen years old. It was to audition for the Junior Program.  Being admitted at that young age was such a thrill, and launched my own journey, which took me around the world and into both live and televised venues.  One of my favorite memories was being on the road with fellow performers.  I believe it was on my first tour through Canada that Mike Caveney coined the phrase ‘interim village,’ which was the area backstage where the acts congregated, waiting to go on.  Invariably our discussions would get around to what we were each up to on stage…what we were after.  For some it was sheer entertainment, nothing more.  For others, myself included, it had to do with a longing to create a sense of wonder within our audience.  I always felt a bit of irony that we ‘modern day wizards’ were using simple scientific principles imbued with a keen theatrical story to mesmerize our audience.

After countless discussions and debates about what made a truly great magician, it always came back to the same thing.  It’s about the performer, the person and how well they portray the character of a magician. From Robert-Houdin to Lance Burton, when a Magician truly captivates his audience —  it is his or her ability to utilize very scientific, technical principles and perform them within a miraculous story line.  The audience invests in the performer’s own belief…it makes no difference in the moment that, that very belief may be an illusion unto itself.

Don’t miss Magic: The Science of Wonder, opening February 26, 2010.

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About Scott

Scott Cervine, guest curator for Magic: The Science of Wonder, was one of the youngest people ever accepted by the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood – at age 15. By the time he was 21, Scott was accepted as a full-fledged member of the Academy of Magical Arts. He is the only magician to ever be named “Magic Entertainer of the Year” two years in a row. Scott has appeared on several new shows, blending his unique style of comedy and magic to dazzle audiences. He has performed in over a dozen countries and made several TV and movie appearances.

2 thoughts on “Magic: The Science of Wonder

  1. Had I known that the exhibit was a journey through the props and evolution of magic, I would have spent my money elsewhere at the Museum. I was under the impression that the ‘how’ of the magic would be revealed…but, alas, it was not to be. A nice history lesson, yes…anything new and different uncovered…NO! …not worth the price…underwhelmed!

  2. Thanks for your feedback – I’m sorry to hear that you did not enjoy the exhibition. From what I understand, the reason the “how” of magic was not revealed was because we didn’t want to ruin the illusion; according to the magicians we have performing in the exhibit, once you know how a trick is done, it ruins the experience of seeing the trick forever. We didn’t want to force that on anyone, especially kids.

    I hope we’ll see you back at the Museum soon – you might enjoy Secrets of the Silk Road, opening in August and featuring incredibly well-preserved Caucasian mummies that were excavated in Asia – definitely something new and different!

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