David Copperfield Pushes for Magic as Art

Famous magician does not demonstrate his art during panel discussion

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas shakes hosted magician David Copperfield at the U.S. Capitol Thursday to push a resolution recognizing magic as "a rare and valuable art form worthy of being declared a national treasure."Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

David Copperfield came to Capitol Hill on Thursday, but he didn't saw anyone in half or make anyone disappear.  

Instead "the world's most famous magician," at least according to Rep. Pete Sessions, talked about magic as a form of art.  

"Magic isn't what you think it is," Copperfield said to the crowd of congressional staff and visitors and a handful of members in the congressional auditorium.  

"It's not just fooling people and all that. Behind magic — it's technology, it's invention, it's preparation, it's storytelling, it's everything that moves people."  

Copperfield was joined by Eric Hogue, mayor of Wylie, Texas, to ask Congress to pass Sessions' resolution, H. Res. 642, "recognizing magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure." Sessions introduced the resolution in March but the House has not acted on it.  

The Society of American Magicians has been trying for nearly 50 years to get magic recognized as an art form, Hogue said, noting Sessions' resolution is the closest they've come.  

"A governmental nod of the head that this is real thing would be really good," Copperfield said.  

Hogue said that the designation would make it easier for aspiring magicians to apply for grants with arts-related foundations and to provide support to magicians who are inventing new tricks and illusions.  

"It gives credibility to young artists — not people like me — but to young artists who are trying to create new things and do things that take magic further and try to use it for ways that can really do some good," Copperfield added.  

One way in which Copperfield has tried to use magic to do some good is to partner with the medical community and use magic as a form of therapy for disabilities.  

Another positive is the way magic inspires people, Copperfield and Hogue said.  

"In my show it's all about motivating people to dream," Copperfield said. He performs more than 500 shows a year across the world, including his regular show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  

While Copperfield did not demonstrate any of the acts from his show, he showed videos of himself performing magic, including one of him flying around stage. He said the flying piece, designed "to inspire people to live the impossible," took him seven years to develop.  

The technology behind various acts of magic, like flying and other illusions, could one day be repurposed for other innovations, Copperfield said.  

"It's entertainment but it's also invention, creation," he said.  

However, Copperfield is not keen to reveal all of his secrets. He has many of his illusions patented,but some are not in his name. To avoid revealing all his tricks, Copperfield said he patents some of his illusions in unexpected categories, like farm equipment.  

Hogue uses magic in his job sometimes, too, like when explaining to elementary school children what a major does. He said it was magic that made him who he is today.  

"I was very much as a child an introvert," Hogue said. "Magic was a way for me to come out of my shell."

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