05:08
TEDGlobal 2011

Marco Tempest: The magic of truth and lies (and iPods)

Filmed:

Using three iPods like magical props, Marco Tempest spins a clever, surprisingly heartfelt meditation on truth and lies, art and emotion.

- Techno-illusionist
Marco Tempest is a cyber illusionist, combining magic and technology to produce astonishing illusions. Full bio

So the type of magic I like, and I'm a magician,
00:15
is a magic that uses technology
00:18
to create illusions.
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So I would like to show you something I've been working on.
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It's an application
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that I think will be useful for artists --
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multimedia artists in particular.
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It synchronizes videos
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across multiple screens of mobile devices.
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And I borrowed these three iPods
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from people here in the audience
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to show you what I mean.
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And I'm going to use them to tell you
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a little bit about my favorite subject:
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deception.
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(Music)
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One of my favorite magicians
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is Karl Germain.
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He had this wonderful trick
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where a rosebush would bloom
01:00
right in front of your eyes.
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But it was his production of a butterfly
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that was the most beautiful.
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(Recording) Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen,
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the creation of life.
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(Applause)
01:16
(Music)
01:18
Marco Tempest: When asked about deception,
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he said this:
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Announcer: Magic is the only honest profession.
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A magician promises to deceive you --
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and he does.
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MT: I like to think of myself as an honest magician.
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I use a lot of tricks,
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which means
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that sometimes I have to lie to you.
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Now I feel bad about that.
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But people lie every day.
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(Ringing) Hold on.
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Girl in Phone: Hey, where are you?
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MT: Stuck in traffic. I'll be there soon.
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You've all done it.
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(Laughter)
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Lady: I'll be ready in just a minute, darling.
02:00
Man: It's just what I've always wanted.
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Woman: You were great.
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MT: Deception,
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it's a fundamental part of life.
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Now polls show
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that men tell twice as many lies
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as women --
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assuming the women they ask told the truth.
02:20
(Laughing)
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We deceive to gain advantage
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and to hide our weaknesses.
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The Chinese general Sun Tzu
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said that all war
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was based on deception.
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Oscar Wilde
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said the same thing of romance.
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Some people
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deceive for money.
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Let's play a game.
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Three cards, three chances.
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Announcer: One five will get you 10, 10 will get you 20.
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Now where's the lady?
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Where is the queen?
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MT: This one?
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Sorry. You lose.
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Well, I didn't deceive you.
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You deceived yourself.
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Self-deception.
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That's when we convince ourselves
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that a lie is the truth.
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Sometimes it's hard to tell the two apart.
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Compulsive gamblers
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are experts at self-deception.
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(Slot machine noise)
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They believe they can win.
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They forget the times they lose.
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The brain is very good at forgetting.
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Bad experiences are quickly forgotten.
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Bad experiences
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quickly disappear.
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Which is why in this vast and lonely cosmos,
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we are so wonderfully optimistic.
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Our self-deception
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becomes a positive illusion --
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why movies
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are able to take us onto extraordinary adventures;
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why we believe Romeo
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when he says he loves Juliet;
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and why single notes of music,
04:00
when played together,
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become a sonata and conjure up meaning.
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That's "Clair de Lune."
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Its composer called Debussy
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said that art
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was the greatest deception of all.
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Art is a deception
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that creates real emotions --
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a lie that creates a truth.
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And when you give yourself over to that deception,
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it becomes magic.
04:30
(Applause)
04:41
Thank you. Thank you very much.
04:53
(Applause)
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About the Speaker:

Marco Tempest - Techno-illusionist
Marco Tempest is a cyber illusionist, combining magic and technology to produce astonishing illusions.

Why you should listen

The Swiss magician began his performing career as a stage magician and manipulator, winning awards and establishing an international reputation. His interest in computer-generated imageryled him to incorporate video and digital technology in his work — and eventually to the development of a new form of contemporary illusion. The expansion of the Internet and social media provided more opportunities for digital illusions and ways of interacting with audiences and creating magically augmented realities. Tempest is a keen advocate of the open source community, working with artists, writers and technologists to create new experiences and research the practical uses of the technology of illusion. He is a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.

More profile about the speaker
Marco Tempest | Speaker | TED.com