This article needs attention from an expert in Magic. Please add a reason or a talk parameter to this template to explain the issue with the article. WikiProject Magic (or its Portal) may be able to help recruit an expert.(November 2009)
Exposure in magic refers to the practice of revealing the secrets of how magic tricks are performed.
The practice is generally frowned upon within the industry as a type of spoiler that ruins the experience of magical performances for audiences.
Exposures are performed by both professional and amateur magicians. Some exposures have been performed as part of stage shows, or in other public media including television, the Internet, certain video sharing interfaces, discussion forums, and blogs.
Penn & Teller performances often include exposing their own tricks for purposes of entertainment. Penn Jillette has said that while the duo show the audience how a trick is done, it is often done so quickly or with different mechanics, so that while the audience learns it is a trick, they cannot follow. As a result, the duo will repeat the trick, fooling the audience even after the audience knows how it's done. This highlights the need to distinguish apparent exposures performed by magicians during an act, which invariably turn out to be illusions in their own right.
New magicians need to learn somewhere. Exposure enables young magicians to develop their skills across a wide range of magical methods.
There are many accepted methods of teaching magic that targets those who want to perform, rather than those who just want to know the secret.
Exposure of old tricks forces magicians to develop new ones.
Exposing magic tricks is a very easy process. Developing new tricks is a difficult, time consuming process. Rather than encourage innovation, exposure may discourage the process as magicians may fear the possibility of their hard won secret being revealed. Moreover, innovation is encouraged through competition between magicians.
Appreciation of skill
Exposure allows spectators to fully appreciate the range of skills involved in performing magic tricks.
The entertainment provided in magic is heightened by not knowing how the trick is achieved - unlike, e.g., juggling, where appreciation of the skill of the juggler adds to the experience.
Exposure devalues magic tricks by removing their potential to surprise audiences. Exposures are oversimplified to the degree that they cheapen the art.
The dangers of exposure are easily exaggerated. Many magic tricks which have been exposed in the past remain popular with audiences. In addition, many members of the public are indifferent to exposures and will neither seek them out nor remember the details for long. Finally, there exist strategies that allow a magician to continue to fool an audience even if they've been exposed to secrets for similar, or even identical, effects.
Exposure violates the intellectual property rights of the creator of the trick. Whilst magical secrets cannot be protected by the law, the moral code of practising magicians respects the innovator of any particular secret.
Exposures provide ammunition for hecklers and saboteurs at the point of performance.
These individuals will damage performances either way. A good performer should be able to cope with this.
Harms new magicians
It is the simpler, cheaper tricks that young magicians rely on, which are most likely to be exposed. Exposure also encourages experienced magicians to avoid discussing methods with newcomers for fear that their methods will be revealed.
Exposure aids new magicians by providing them with an easy, cheap source of new tricks.
Magic and criminality
The skills and secrets of a magician can be used to harm the public, by creative cheats and emotional persuasion. Exposure may furnish those with criminal intent the skills needed to attempt such deception.
Exposure allows members of the public to become more keenly aware of the possibility of deception, and how it works.