- Are magicians and mentalists the same thing? Read on, to find out...
Mentalism is a performance that has never really left the public eye. Whether you’ve seen a hypnotist, a psychic, or a modern mentalism show, they’re there. However, the concept is rising in popularity. As people explore the world again and reach out for something new to see, mentalist acts have gained traction. But it’s important to note that times have changed, and the act has changed with it, even if the core concept goes back centuries. So, with the digital age well underway, what has changed about mentalist shows due to modern technology?
What is mentalism?
There is a type of magic performance known as mentalism, which focuses on the control of perceptions and thoughts. A mentalist, often called a psychological illusionist, creates the appearance of mind reading and other psychic talents using a number of methods, including hypnosis, suggestion, and misdirection. A mental telepathy show like Lior Suchard for example, can also involve the use of cold reading, a method in which educated predictions are made about a person’s thoughts or feelings based on clues and body language. In order to affect their audience’s ideas and behaviors, mentalists also use strategies like NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is the study of the relationship between words and behavior.
The key to being a successful mentalist is the ability to read people and understand how they think, as well as being able to present oneself as confident, charismatic, and in control. It’s also important to be able to think on your feet and improvise when necessary.
Are mentalism and magic the same thing? No, they’re entirely different. A mentalist uses mentalism to reveal predictions and read minds, whereas a magician often makes objects appear, change, and disappear. The main distinction between magic/mental magic and mentalism is that a magician can pull off several tricks, whereas a mentalist only pulls off one, creating the meta-illusion that they can pull off whatever theory they want.
Putting on a good show
It has always been important for a mentalist show to be as authentic as possible, so a lot of technology gets left behind. If a mentalist really wants to prove themselves to be the best, they will stick to cold reading and attempt to gain conclusions based on attributes of the person they have as the subject of their psychic powers.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t liven up a live performance with technology. The most famous mentalists such as Derren Brown, David Blaine and Uri Geller have had their shows streamed into homes around the world. They can be considered amongst the top performers and regularly take spots in Las Vegas alongside singers and comedians, not to mention trending pages of streaming services like Netflix.
Technology has gone a long way to making what was once an intimate show into a spectacle. The lights, the music, the props are all advancements from a concept that originated, at least on record, in 1572 with Girolamo Scotto.
But today, the tech advancements go much further than a good Hollywood production for a show.
The power of social media
Of course, today we have the internet. And it’s done a lot for personal branding and marketing, but like every trend in the real world, the internet has put its own spin on things.
Prominent modern mentalists have shown up on the internet, stopping people on the street to control or read their mind, and gone viral on platforms like YouTube and TikTok for snippets of their trickery on the streets.
However, there is also an interesting minor trend of home tarot readers, who are weighing in on topical conversations with their insight into the future. Typically, they stick to internet drama, since getting too real could suck the fun from it, but it’s gaining popularity. Tarot readers sit at their desk, one webcam on them, one on the cards, and analyze the question posed in front of them. The only difference is that instead of commenting on a question that someone is “holding in their mind” as they instruct them to, they are commenting on a publicly known story and speculating on what could possibly happen in the future.
The extra fun part here is that users can look back at old readings whenever there is a development in the story to find out if they were right or not, making for an extra round of views for the creator.
You might think that there is not much that technology can do for a concept that is supposed to be separate from science, i.e. magic, but we can all use technology to improve things. Even if the act goes back centuries, there is always the possibility of going viral.