The rise of the internet has profoundly changed the way we consume entertainment. From movies, to live concerts, to a museum’s art collection, enjoying these forms of entertainment used to be an event, involving getting dressed up and going out of the house, sometimes even thousands of miles of travel. Digital media has made it possible to access all of that from the convenience of our phone screen. Within this kind of media landscape, it is easy to think that magic as a form of entertainment has become obsolete. One magician seems to think that that is not the case. Meet Thomas Poole, a nationally performing event magician. Thomas has learned how to do card magic since the age of 12 and has kept on perfecting his craft ever since. What started as a mere hobby soon turned into something more serious. Thomas is a performer. For him, magic is an art, and he takes his art seriously. Whenever he’s not performing, he would take 3-6 hours every day to practice his newest trick, dissecting not only the card mechanics but also the psychology of his audience. By studying people’s behavior, how they react and respond to certain actions, it allows Thomas to create an illusion of unpredictability and mystery. The golden age of magic as performing art may seem to have faded. Older generations may recall the era of David Copperfield, whose performances were as much a grand spectacle as they were enigmatic.
Whether it’s making a train, a plain and the Statue of Liberty vanish on different occasions, or teleporting someone to a stage in Australia, we tend to be so captivated that it left us wanting the next act to be even bigger. On the flip side of the coin is the growing number of so-called truth-tellers, a community of internauts, whether through YouTube videos or blog posts, dedicating themselves to debunking and exposing magic tricks. Skepticism is the norm, and nothing must be left unquestioned.
Yet for Thomas, magic is so much more than all of that. According to him, the key component to magic, as a performance, has always been to entertain people and to make people feel good about themselves. The kind of tricks that are being performed is only secondary. What’s more important is that people will feel the thrill of experiencing something that seems to be impossible, right before their eyes. Thomas believes that at the very core, we all, as human beings, still long for meaningful emotional connections that are absent from digital entertainment, despite the convenience that it offers. Thomas’ performances are a way for him to engage with and entertain his audience in a way that will bring the best out of them. Through a mastery of his audience’s psychology, Thomas takes his audience on a trip where they will end up questioning their very own reality.