Ladies and gentlemen, welcome! Each week I'll post behind the scenes information on how Deception comes together: the science and history behind the magic and the process of integrating illusions into television.
First up, one of my favorite moments from the pilot: the person switch behind the painting. We get to see the whole Magic Team in action!
This was inspired by the "Door Experiment" by renowned psychologists Daniel Simons and Daniel Levin (see video below). Magicians are master manipulators of your attention: Derren Brown has used the Door Experiment to great effect in his specials in the UK; Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, often tests your attention in his Quirkology videos; and pickpocket Apollo Robbins masterfully challenges your perception in Brain Games.
THE BLINDFOLDED DRIVE
In the pilot, Cameron Black narrowly escapes from Prince's goons by driving blindfolded. Here's the history of the man behind that effect, Washington Irving Bishop.
Bishop is credited with originating the Blindfold Drive when he managed to navigate a horse-drawn carriage while blindfolded in 1885. The first person to do the feat, however, was an English stone mason, Dennis Hendrick, who performed a blindfolded walk in 1820. And it wasn't until Dunninger in 1917 that a magician would use a car for the Blindfold Drive.
Born in 1856, Bishop launched his career by exposing the methods of Ann Eva Fay, a psychic medium, whom he managed. But as Bishop's career gained traction, he decided it was more effective to adopt the same approach, and pretend that he possessed extra-sensory abilities. Bishop was most known for a mentalism feat called Muscle Reading, which he learned from mind-reader Jacob Randall Brown. Bishop would blindfold himself and grab the hand of an audience volunteer. Despite not being able to see, Bishop was able to find hidden objects in the room by asking questions and sensing the involuntary ideomotor responses in the subject's hand.
But it's Bishop's death that is perhaps the most interesting. On May 12, 1889, Bishop was performing at the Lambs' Club in New York City when he collapsed. A friend of Bishop's mentioned that the entertainer suffered from catalepsy, a condition that often resulted in Bishop losing consciousness for short periods of time. He would probably be alright.
Sure enough, Bishop rebounded a short time later and requested to finish the performance. But he once again collapsed. This time he did not recover, was pronounced dead, and shortly after, doctors performed an autopsy.
At the funeral parlor when Bishop's wife saw that her husband's brain had been removed, she exclaimed, "They've killed my husband!" According to Mrs. Bishop, her husband had simply been in a cataleptic trance. Normally Bishop carried a note in his breast pocket that stipulated that no autopsy should be performed within 48 hours of supposed death. But no note was found.
In an even stranger turn of events, Bishop's mother, Eleanor, wanted to get to the bottom of why an autopsy was performed and who stole her son's brain. So she requested a second autopsy by the coroners. What they found was shocking: Bishop's brain was located in the body's chest cavity -- a strange and eerie end to one of magic's most mysterious characters.