The performance was titled “184 Seconds,” and with it, DelGaudio obscured a virtuosic feat within a pantomime of banality. A “second deal” — a hard-to-master maneuver, often referred to simply as a “second” in the world of card magic — is when the magician appears to deal from the top of a deck but is in fact dealing the second-to-topmost card. Seconds usually aren’t tricks in themselves but rather are building blocks for more elaborate deceptions. In “184 Seconds,” DelGaudio set himself a daunting challenge: How many seconds could he execute in a minute? The answer to this question became the performance’s punning title.Not, “How did he do that?” but, “Why?” – this sums up my attitude to much of what passes for art these days.
“184 Seconds” was anticlimactic by design, privileging invisible technique while eliminating any perceptible effect — all hat, in other words, and no rabbit. In envisioning his work, DelGaudio, who has a fervent fan base among magic aficionados, likes to nod to well-known conventions (pick a card, any card), only to slyly deconstruct them, in a manner that either heightens or thwarts their payoffs. His animating goal is not for observers to ask, “How did he do that?” but, “Why?” For DelGaudio, “184 Seconds” enacted what he calls “one of magic’s defining paradoxes”: that a magician’s slavishly honed talents of subterfuge must by definition remain invisible to others and thus easy for the uninitiated to dismiss as trivial. “There’s something beautiful about that,” DelGaudio told me, “and there’s something heartbreaking.”
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Stage magician Derek DelGaudio performs what you might call metamagic. Instead of using clever magician's techniques to create some marvelous illusion, he uses clever magician's techniques to do nothing in particular: