Scott Hammell’s stunt — living in a glass box that people covered with cans to make him “disappear” — is a really great magic trick.
He was raising money for a food bank in Toronto, where he lives. He grabbed headlines and raised food and awareness for the cause.
But he also did a very great magic trick.
Here are some of the criteria I’m taking into consideration:
People cared about the performance and felt part of the performance. It captured imaginations. It brought people together to enjoy themselves and perhaps reflect on things a bit. And here’s an important one — he showed people something they’ve never seen before.
If people come to see a magician, but there is no illusion, and there is no deception nor false assumptions, but it’s framed as a magic trick, we don’t really know what to call it.
What is a magic trick? What is a stunt? Technically, I’d call it performance art. Let’s not get tied up in details and definitions. Partly this was so successful because it played with the definitions of all those things. David Blaine, through his endurance stunts, has already broadened the public’s concept of what magicians do. Scott Hammell toyed with that idea, and — voila — the best magic stunt I can remember in the last few years.
In this case, a magician proposed to vanish in an incredible, and as far as I know, unheard of way. There is lots more that can be done in this vein.
Here’s the last word, posted on Mr. Hammell’s Facebook page after he emerged: “Thank you to everyone who helped Make Local Hunger Disappear this last week with Halloween For Hunger! We raised thousands of pounds of food for Daily Bread Food Bank!”