Photography is magic; close up magic – the kind of intimate, right-in-front of you sleight of hand that brings up pure wonder and delight.
This book gathers the work of words of more than eighty artists operating in the related field of photographic magic. The idea that close-up magic has a bearing on the critical mass of contemporary photographic art centers on their shared capacity to recalibrate established creative forms in ways that relate to our collaborative present: to conjure imaginative and open-ended experiences and trains of thought in the viewer. Magic in both realms is a multisensory experience that calls – instantaneously, and without consciously knowing it – upon our capacity to script our own sense of visual reality.
Photography is Magic privileges the potentials of ideas over the virtuosity of individual authors or the perfection of techniques and mechanisms: as with actual close up prestidigitation, ideas are what ultimately allow the magic to happen. The works shown here takes into account the many ways in which viewers relate to photographic media, materials, and image cultures in our current media environment. They are potent in new ways, and specifically because of the terms of engagement they propose: calling upon our ability to construct meaning from our collective “muscle memory” of making and consuming photographic imagery.
With skillful dexterity and the subtle physicality of their work, close-up magicians are different from the charismatic illusionists who perform dazzling visual spectacles to large theatre audiences, close-up magic is a much more intimate affair, often performed for a tightly knit sphere of fellow magicians and small, discerning audiences. As the name of this form of magic suggests, the viewers sit close to the table and the intensity of the magician’s rapid prestidigitation.