What does magic tell us about the human mind? The inimitable Wellcome Collection – whose permanent displays are endlessly fascinating – has a brand new exhibition bringing together the worlds of psychology and entertainment. Why? The search for the truth about, um, deception.
The show explores how biases affect our perception, whether our senses can be hacked, and looks to spirit photography, magic props and psychology experiments to see how magic works on – and in – the mind of the spectator.
The exhibits are fascinating, too: they include the head of the gorilla costume worn by Derren Brown, Harry Houdini’s ‘Bell Box’, Tommy Cooper’s fez, and Paul Daniels’s sawing-in-half box.
Fancy seeing some magic in action? Lucky you, as there are live performances exploring what magic reveals about the nature of perception, and how psychologists have used conjuring to understand the appeal of the ‘supernatural’.
So is it really all smoke and mirrors? Or something a bit, well, darker? You decide.