Illusion in Cultural Practice : Productive Deceptions book cover
1st Edition

Illusion in Cultural Practice
Productive Deceptions

ISBN 9781032036304
Published November 26, 2021 by Routledge
222 Pages 9 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume explores illusionism as a much larger phenomenon than optical illusion, magic shows, or special effects, as a vital part of how we perceive, process, and shape the world in which we live. Considering different cultural practices characterized by illusionism, this book suggests a new approach to illusion via media theory.

Each of the chapters analyses a specific kind of illusionistic practice and the concept of illusionism it entails in a given context, including philosophy, perception and cognitive theory, performance magic, occultism, optics, physiology, early cinema, cartomancy, spiritualism, architecture, shamanic rituals, and theoretical physics, to show the diversity of shapes that illusionism and illusions can take. The book provides detailed analyses of illusions within performance and ritual magic, philosophy, art history and psychology as well as a first approach to the study of illusions outside of these established fields. It aims to find ways of identifying and analysing a wider range of illusions in the humanities.

This multidisciplinary and comprehensive volume will appeal to scholars and students with an interest in media and culture, theatre and performance, philosophy, sociology, politics and religion.

This publication was supported by the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

IKKM Books

Volume 47
An overview of the whole series can be found at

Chapter 5 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 license

Chapter 9 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Additional Online Material
Notes on Contributors

Katharina Rein

Part I: The Epistemology and Aesthetics of Illusions

1. Optical Illusion and Standing Appearance in Kant and Johann Heinrich Lambert
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky

2. From Magic to Illusions: The Power of the Virtual
Tom Gunning

3. Illusions, Magic and the Aesthetics of the Impossible
Thomas Fraps

Part II: Illusions in Entertainment

4. Magic and Illusion: From the Tarot to Playing Cards
Joyce Goggin

5. “The Vanishing Lady”, the Railway, and Illusions of Movement
Katharina Rein

6. Magic, Spiritualism and Cinema: Viewing Dispositives and Illusionist Spectacles in France in the Early Twentieth Century
Mireille Berton

7. Deceptive Strategies in the Miniature Illusions of Close-Up Magic
Wally Smith

Part III: Illusions of the Senses and the Mind

8. Perspective, Illusory Space, and Communication: The Apotheosis of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo
Matteo Flavio Mancini

9. Talking Rocks, Illusory Sounds, and Projections of the Otherworld: Acoustics of Sacred Sites as a Magic Media in Shamanic Cultures
Julia Shpinitskaya and Riitta Rainio

10. The Vortex Atoms: On Illusions in Science and the Role of Mathematical Vision
Gabriele Gramelsberger


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Katharina Rein currently works as Lecturer at the University of Potsdam (Germany). She holds a doctoral degree in Cultural History and Theory from the Humboldt-University of Berlin. Her award-winning dissertation examines the media and cultural history of stage magic in the late nineteenth century. Her academic work has been published in four languages.