Alex Davies

Research Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...

Magic, mixed realities & misdirection

Doctoral Thesis – College of Fine Arts, UNSW Australia



This hybrid practice-based thesis argues that an effective way to approach perceptual and social realism within mixed realities is to combine new technologies (visual and auditory displays, mechatronics) with old techniques drawn from magic and cinema. In particular it looks at how the psychological principles of ‘misdirection’ taken from the practice of conjuring can contribute to the creation of compelling illusions in mixed reality. The research identifies those key principles of magic most relevant to this investigation as framing context, consistency, continuity, conviction, justification, surprise, and disguise. The practical application of these principles is demonstrated through the production of two case-study artworks created by the author: The Black Box Sessions (2008-2011) and Häusliches Glück (2009). In these research projects, the audience is no longer required to suspend disbelief during the media encounter, but is instead lead to believe that the virtual elements are experienced as being real and physically present.

Subjects: Magic; Mixed Reality; Virtual Environments; Media Arts; Illusion; Conjuring; Virtual Characters; Computer Agents; Interactive Cinema; Realism; Presence; Deception

Download the thesis <here>