is the field of entertainment
also known as legerdemain
(the first referring to the general field of arcane
arts, the second referring to the craft of sleight of hand
Among magicians, there is a clear distinction between the various fields of magic: close-up, parlor, stage, mentalism, and bizarre magic, to name a few.
Close-up magic is performed for people in intimate settings,for small groups, or even one person. It is generally performed with small props, quite often borrowed from the spectator(s).
Parlor magic is performed for a slightly larger group. The dynamics of the environment in these cases demands that the performer stand while the audience sits. Magic of this kind must play broader and be less intimate than close-up magic.
Stage magic is performed for even larger groups, when a stage is the most appropriate environment. This type of magic lacks the intimacy that parlor and close-up enjoy and requires a different type of presentation for the performer to deliver a successful performance. While many stage effects are done with elaborate props and settings, assistants, and background people, there is room for crossover. One often sees stage magicians performing parlor magic, and many will even perform close-up magic on stage, using large-screen televisions to bring the effect to the audience. While stage magic can reach a larger number of people than close-up magic ever can, it is widely agreed that close-up magic provides the greatest impact on spectators. David Copperfield, who has established himself as an icon among stage magicians, has stated that the effects he's performed that receive the greatest feedback from the audiences are the close-up effects, those done with a quarter or some similar prop.
Mentalism is usually performed in a parlor or small stage setting, and is the field of magic that deals with effects of the mind, such as apparent telepathy, precognition, divination, and even the forcing of the spectators' will through mental powers.
Bizarre magic is that field that simulates experiences of a darker nature. Presentations in bizarre magic deal with strange powers, demons, macabre events, and even seances.
Of all the fields defined here, close-up magic is the most technically demanding of the performer. Many of the effects are achieved in part by manual skill, but the performer must also have a keen awareness of spectator psychology and human behavior. Because of the intimate environment in which the close-up magician performs, the barriers that would exist between a stage magician and his audience are not present. A spectator may speak and interrupt at any time. A hand could at any moment come forth and grab the magician by the sleeve. In no field of magic is the unpredictable more a factor than in close-up magic, and the performer must be experienced enough, talented enough, and sensible enough to deal with all contingencies. As such, close-up magic, if it is to be done well, is not for the faint of heart.
Though there are many, many fields of entertainment, from singing to acting to mime to juggling to oration to stand-up comedy to acrobatics, none can evoke what magic can, and that is a sense of wonder and awe. Magic done poorly is trite, but magic done well can cause a spectator to question their own beliefs or what they know about the world. Mentalists and bizarre magicians in particular can leave a spectator with such a profound sense of mystery that it can literally be a life-changing event. Because of this, magic has great power as an entertainment medium, despite the number of lesser talented magicians who fail to achieve this level of performance, or recognize that it even exists.