Following the coffin through the churchyard was the woman’s granddaughter, 16 years old at that time, and too long in the limbs. Head drooping from a curved back and legs wheeling through the snow, hands holding a scarf to her mouth. Like a magician she starts to extract a wet ball of silk from her mouth, and it extends, a long tail, more and more of it. Finally she buries her face in it, a peculiar grimace, shoulders shaking. This figure, ungainly though it was, was still lost among the crowd of mourners, except to one pair of eyes watching from the sidelines who could see the strange light in her eyes. Yes she was laughing, not crying.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I've been curious since my teens about the history and development of levitation and the techniques various magicians have used to achieve it. The picture above is one of my favourite levitation images. Although I've encountered it on different websites, I've never found, until recently, any relevant information about its origins.
I suppose the most immediate thing that grabs you about the photograph is that its staged on a beach. This, arguably, disproves the commonly held belief that the trick behind levitation is the use of wires attached to the roof of the stage. Apart from this, the picture is just generally visually pleasing. I like the way that the magician's arms - raised in the iconic sorcerer's pose - syncs with the breaking wave in the background.
Also, the entire photo consists of sets of horizontal parallel lines: the waves; the water's edge; the line of wet sand; the magicians arms; the woman's body; concluding with the neat pair of shadows that their bodies cast on the sand. The idea of parallel lines (one line 'floating' above another) ties up nicely with the subject of photograph.
The one disrupting element in the composition is the woman's legs. If you look carefully, you can see that one foot crosses over the other and 'hovers' over it, breaking the sequence of lines. The more you study it, the stranger the crossing seems, and one begins to suspect that it is part of the mechanics of the illusion. Another odd thing is that the wind seems to be blowing in two directions. Look at the woman's flapping dress and then at the magicians hair. It looks as if they're being blown in different directions.
The photo would have remained in my pictures folder had it not been for the fact that I recently accidentally discovered that the man pictured was an Indian magician called Yusultini and that the woman, named Faeeza, was his wife. It dates from 1962, and, incredibly, was taken on a beach near Durban, South Africa - which is where I now live.