Vanishing Technology: Transparency of Media in Stage Magic

  • Katharina ReinEmail author
Part of the Avant-Gardes in Performance book series (AGP)


Stage magicians of the nineteenth century seized upon newest technologies, materials, and inventions, combining mechanization, romantic wonder, and techniques of the body. Rein argues that the disappearance of any means facilitating the illusions is an essential characteristic of stage conjuring. They are negated in favour of the created effect, which, in turn, is emphasized. Similar to several media theoreticians’ argument that media have a tendency to disappear behind the message they transmit, magicians’ media disappear behind the effect they create. This disappearance is the very basis of any grand illusion. As a media dispositif, the magician’s stage thus reflects its own media usage. By focusing on the iconic stage illusion “Vanishing Lady” this chapter analyses this central quality of conjuring with regard to other selected examples from its Golden Age.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bauhaus-University WeimarWeimarGermany

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