Oddball Films and guest curator Hannah Airriess present Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Disappearing Acts, Optical Illusions, and Mad Science. This program focuses on our fascination with illusion, and the accompanying desire to reveal the mechanics of such tricks. A magician’s performance, whether on a vaudeville stage or celluloid, centers on the pleasure an audience receives upon being deceived; in the awe of wondering, “How did they do that?” The short documentary Houdini Never Died (1978) showcases archival footage of many of Harry Houdini’s great escapes and illusions, along with other magicians’ tricks influenced by the great illusionist. Furthermore, it details the life of a man who was determined to debunk spiritualism and the belief in actual magic through his death-defying acts. The Human Senses: Learning to See (1970s), a beautiful educational film, explains the way optical illusions work, from Eames’ rooms to Ponzo illusions. This newfound knowledge will be helpful in watching Camera Magic (1955), a short film by the photographer Weegee, which demonstrates film’s magical capabilities, creating two-headed songs and multi-limbed women through editing. In The Magic Shop (1972), a modern version of the H.G. Wells short story, a father and son pay a visit to a magic shop. As the son marvels at tricks he believes to be true magic, his skeptical father tries his best to ground the feats in logical thinking. Lastly, the strange and goofy film People Soup illustrates the magical capabilities of science, as two children perform a gross-out science experiment that transforms them into animals.
Date: Saturday, January 21st, 2012 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco