Marco Tempest is not your average stage magician, he doesn’t pull rabbits out of hats or saw female assistants in two (does anyone these days?). He doesn’t make the Statue of Liberty disappear either. Instead this technoillusionist uses digital devices in his trickery: iPods, Kinects, and computer programming—the sort of tools you’d more readily associate with a new media artist. Which he effectively is.
He’s a popular figure on the TEDTalk circuit too, with previous talks covering magic and storytelling via augmented reality and another where he uses iPods like playing cards. Now he’s back with another TEDtalk, but this time it’s about the mystical scientist Nikola Tesla, whose name we all know from those “Doctor Who” theme song Tesla coil videos on YouTube.
In the talk, Tempest uses a digital update on what’s called tanagra theatre, which was popular in the early part of the last century where, using mirrors, a tiny image of an actor would be projected onstage. Instead of mirrors Tempest uses projection mapping with images projected onto a pop-up book (and his face) to tell the story of Tesla.
He unveils the techniques behind this interactive projection mapping in the video below.