Yesterday, Ning & I staged out 9th mega illusion in the form of a world record attempt for reading “100 Minds in 60 Minutes”. Entitled “The Mind Heist”, it was touted as “the ultimate social magic experiment”.
Our goal for this mega illusion was to attempt something that has not been done in the world before, but preserve the sophistication and spirit of pure mentalism and ultimately elevate the art of magic.
In the weeks leading up to the mega illusion, we have had strong support from the local media as well as international magic media. This has included:
- “J C Sum, ‘Magic Babe’ Ning will Live Stream Next Mega Illusion“, iTricks, 1 Dec 2011
- “J C Sum & ‘Magic Babe’ Ning to Perform Newest Mega Illusion”, About.com Magic & Illusion, 3 Dec 2012
- “Singapore magic duo to attempt record-setting “mass mind reading” illusion”, Channel News Asia, 9 Dec 2011
- Shin Min Daily, 27 Dec 2011
- “Magic Babe Ning: Magic can no longer be passive”, xinmsn, 3 Jan 2012
- “Muttons on the Move”, 98.7FM, 3 Jan 2012
- “本地俊男美女魔术师 挑战百人测心术”, Omy.sg, 4 Jan 2012
- “Car Tunes”, Class 95FM, 5 Jan 2012
- “J C Sum, ‘Magic Babe’ Ning Prepare to Live Stream Singapore Mentalism Stunt“, iTricks, 5 Jan 2012
- “Those Magic Moments”, TODAY, 6 Jan 2012
- “It’s All Magic”, AM Live!, 6 Jan 2012
We also received the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Magicians through a message from the International President, Vanni Pule.
We arrived at the venue of “The Mind Heist”, Sinema Old School at about 11am for preparations and set-ups. We had previously finished rehearsals late the night before but had already loaded in and set up most of the technical equipment needed.
All photo credits: Weili Chua
Participants, media and audience members started to arrive before 2pm and were greeted to Ning & I being escorted by representatives of the Singapore Book of Records and International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 115 who were officiating the event.
We were blindfolded, ear-plugged and seated in our isolation “black box” that was in full view of the arriving audience, behind glass doors. A webcam showed us in isolation throughout the time before the actual record attempt began.
As some participants were late, the start of the event was delayed by 45min which meant Ning & I were blindfolded and ear-plugged for more than one and half hours. But, we were “fetched” by the officials after what seemed like a very long time.
We were escorted up to the Sinema Old School theatre where about 140 people were waiting, out of which, 100 participants were seated in order of their numbers.
The event and live Internet feed was hosted by Fly Entertainment Artiste, Pamelyn Chee.
Within minutes of arriving at the theatre, Ning & I started the record attempt. Unlike an illusion show, this demonstration was completely different in presentation, production and delivery.
We were very focused on the presenting this “show” and it was the result of 10 years of thinking and mastering the techniques we used in the show. As I mentioned before in previous posts, I first started working seriously in mentalism in 2002 – 2004. That was my first incarnation of my “Illusions of the Mind” show.
I later revisited the show with Ning in 2009 and we debuted it in Nov 2010 for the National Heritage Board annual campaign. My mentalism techniques had matured significantly as well of my knowledge base which allowed us to present a mentalism show with credibility and at a high level.
“The Mind Heist” featured a very large variety of sophisticated mentalism techniques that required us to dig into a vast toolbox of methods and techniques. We could not have done this 5 years ago simply because we did not have the extensive expertise and maturity as performers to present such an intense presentation.
We owe a huge debt to all mentalists who have shared their work through books and lectures that we have learnt from over the years. I developed a couple of original ideas to bring some existing plots to a new level.
The result is a 60min continuous presentation of mind reading acts of 100 people. The balance between achieving the record but at the same time making the demonstration entertaining and also believable throughout was the biggest challenge.
Earlier last year, I worked out the general run-down of the entire 100 minds with the basic methods. Then Ning & I worked together to fine tune the entire sequence for weeks. Subsequently, Mark Parker, who was consulting for the stunt, offered suggestions and improvements after watching our practice sessions which we ran with. Between the three of us, I think we derived the best 100 minds sequence that could be possibly presented in the context of this world record attempt and in a way that best showcased both performers at equal levels.
As we had to pace ourselves (and the audience) for 100 people, we started with the familiar, then moved to the abstract and then unimaginable. Our first Falkenstein-inspired sequence involved cards and money where Ning read the minds of the participants as they thought of cards in increasingly fair ways.
Other participants took virtual journeys to arrive at a final secret location while others mixed up a Rubik’s Cube and thought of colours which we then proceeded to “heist” from their minds.
The next challenge was interesting as it involved 10 participants working as a group to decide on a section of a newspaper and subsequently a story in that section. Ning & I worked together to describe the story and “heist” the headline.
The demonstration then moved to a more literary realm as spectators were invited to think of words from books. A group of ten people even worked together to form random words. With some minor stumbles initially, we successfully extracted those words from the participants’ minds.
In what Channel News Asia considered the most impressive act, we recreate a unique drawing that a group of participants created together. Each participant added one element to the drawing to make it unique. We managed to duplicate the drawing identically. I highlighted that they were trying to do a portrait of me 🙂
We were running out of time before we even started with the final 10. I saw official, Kenneth Chia, frantically showing the stop watch to John Teo, President of IBM Ring 115 as well as Mr Ong Eng Huat, President of the Singapore Book of Records. I noticed Kenneth and John waving the stop watch to me, which I interpreted that we were running out of time. But, I had no idea how much time was left at that point… 10min… 5 min… 1min.. I realize now that it was about just under 5 minutes.
We invited the final 10 to come down to the stage where they were asked to “shuffle” themselves into a random single line so that they were not lined up according to their number. We then handed each of them a clipboard and a marker and requested them to think of a single-digit number and then write it down.
Ning & I then proceeded to read their minds and write down a 10-digit number. This was handed to the head official to read into a microphone. The participants were asked to turn over their clipboards to show that the numbers matched exactly!
Mark, Ning, I and the rest of the team spent 30 minutes “thrashing” out exactly how this last sequence would pan out. This would be after a previous session in the studio when Mark, Ning & I were brainstorming what the final 10 would do and how we would present it. Aside from the effect and mentalism method to accomplish this stunt, we were all very concerned with the story telling and dramatic conclusion that this final sequence communicate. Eventually, we all agreed on the best finale based on constraints and keeping the most important elements in.
It worked out very well… although we, unknowingly at the time, cut it very close. We completed 100 people in 59 minutes and 51 seconds…9 seconds to spare! I think Kenneth & John from IBM Ring 115 were at the edge of their seats. While they are officials assisting the Singapore Book of Records, they also did not want to see us fail. So… whew!
After we completed reading the minds of all 100 people, we were almost completely mentally drained. We had anticipated that we would be tired but we did not expect it to be that tough. I think the 90min of isolation really took a toil on us as that is not something we actually rehearsed.
We were presented with the award certificate from the Singapore Book of Records to make the new record official.
Continued in Part 2 HERE.