Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function? Why, it's Tearigami!

An impossible object?

Naw, I'm not promoting Schoolhouse Rock (Oops!  See what I just did there?).

In my process of trying to figure out the next great business card design, so that my business card doesn't get accused of being crap by mentalist Joel Bauer, I stumbled across this 2006 tearigami invention:

Conjunction is a remarkable effect with a very simple description. You take one of your business cards, give it a series of folds and tears, and in the process transform it into an impossible object: two unbroken cardboard rings that end up linked through one another.

So, you may ask, what sets Conjunction apart from the multitude of other effects that have bits of card linking together? Simple: You do it for real.

According to people who have learned it, this is not a magic trick:  It is "legit", where the paper truly is linked.

On this Magic Cafe forum thread, the author, Joshua Quinn, answers some FAQ:

Can I do it with my current business card?
The answer to that question -- and I wish I had a better one -- is "maybe." And since I'm well aware of how frustrating that answer is, here is the most detailed elaboration I can give you without giving too much away. Once you learn how the link is done, you'll be able to do it with any card. However, in order to prevent people from being able to tell how you did it, the card you use will have to meet certain requirements, the details of which I can't disclose. If your current card meets those requirements, then you'll be able to make a deceptive set of linked rings from it; if it doesn't, you won't. Note, however, that even if you can, that doesn't guarantee that you'll be able to finish with your contact info still intact on the linked rings. In order to make that happen, there's a very good chance you will need new cards. However, the manuscript outlines a number of alternatives for people who don't want to change their current business card.
Can I do it with a borrowed business card?
Again, it depends on the card; some of them will work, some won't.
Can I do it with a playing card?
Finally, a question with a definite answer! And that answer is, no.
How long does it take in real time?Once you get good at it, about two minutes. And yes, that is a long time for people to watch you fold and tear paper. I discuss various approaches to covering this in the manuscript.
What's the difficulty level?
It will require a good deal of practice, but not the same kind of practice required for difficult sleight of hand; it's more akin to learning to make an origami bird, or make a Jacob's Ladder out of a loop of string. If you've ever mastered something like that, you'll have no problem with this.
Can I do it with a larger piece of paper in a stage setting?
It's theoretically possible, but wholly impractical.
How impromptu is it?
You have to have a suitable business card, but that really is all that's required. If that fits your personal definition of impromptu, then it's impromptu; if it doesn't, then it's not.
What comes with the effect?
A 48-page, 8.5x11", staple-bound, photo illustrated, clearly written, professionally proofread, typographically pleasing manuscript, plus a few blank business cards to practice with.
Why did you release it as a booklet rather than a DVD?
Because I'm an intellectual elitist who spits on the bourgeoisie and their sluggardly desire to have everything spoon-fed directly into what's left of their atrophied brains through a CRT screen. And also because the nature of the effect makes it easier to learn from still pictures (which you can stare at for as long as you need to), than from a DVD (which you would have to keep pausing and rewinding). But mainly it was the first reason.

A paraphrase from the manuscript...
Any topologist, origami expert, or high school geometry teacher will tell you that tearing two unbroken, interlinked rings from a single piece of paper is physically impossible, and has been known to be so for centuries. Yet that is exactly what I'll teach you to do, using a process that requires no circumvention of natural laws, but merely a slightly different way of looking at things -- one which has evidently eluded centuries' worth of topologists, origami experts, and high school geometry teachers...
Color me intrigued.  The rest of the conversation flow on that thread is also interesting.

One commenter even mentions Joel Bauer:

I highly recommend this to anyone interested in topological puzzles and/or origami. I am already brainstorming on how to present this... can't wait to get it down quick.
Also for those of you that might learn this and wonder how they might present it... consider this: I have seen Joel Bauer mesmerize a room full of people while folding a bunny bill, which takes considerably longer to create than conjunction. With enough practice and a well written script, I think this could be a piece of theater that will set one apart from every other magician/mentalist out there.
And a response to that by another:
Re Joel Bauer....I think it would be fairer to say that Joel Bauer could mesmerize a room full of people by just reading out a phone book !

I don't mean to steer this post off-topic to be about Joel Bauer, but he's a friend and just has amazing energy.  I'm sure some who attended OUSA around 2002 may remember his energy and presence.

Going further into the thread, Quinn mentions kirigami's role (in being disappointed by it) in the process of developing Conjunction:

I mention this briefly in the manuscript, but the inspiration was Ian Rowland's stage effect wherein he cuts two linked rings from a sheet of newspaper. When I saw it, I was one of the people who got to examine the rings, and even after giving them a good looking over, I didn't have a clue. That bugged me. A lot. Ian then mentioned (on this board if I recall correctly) that his effect was inspired by Isao Komine's "Kirigami Rings." So I tracked down a copy of it, and immediately experienced what I refer to in the book as "one of those crushing, amateurish moments of disappointment with the method." Of course I can't go into exactly why, but like most such moments, it came down to this: I wanted it to be real, and it wasn't. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I think I took the news of Santa's nonexistence better. However, that disappointment got me thinking about the problem, and pointed me toward a way that just might allow me to actually do it for real. So, as is my usual prerequisite for any worthwhile thing I accomplish or create in life, I became a bit obsessed with it.

For anyone who gets a copy of Conjunction (and I'll most likely be ordering it if it's ever back in stock!), Walt offers up this presentation idea:

Business is stressful,
so have you ever considered all the stress balled up in one’s business cards?
Lots of tension to be found there I guarantee.

Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding,
there’s another ancient art of paper-cutting, called Kirigami,
these are all designed to focus the attention,
to center-- and to find the calm within that Center.

I prefer paper tearing.
It allows me to rid myself of hostilities so I don’t go postal.
And at the same time find my Center.
Both de-stress -and- meditate.

All in perfect harmony--
as tiny bits of card flutter in higher-consciousness.

Owning my feelings of pressure in the Now.
Anticipating my feelings of peace in the Zen.

Sort of a Now-and-Zen approach you could call it?

So pouring all my frustration and focus--
into this one business card.

Within the Center of My Being,
even the Impossible becomes…. the Probable!

Which begs the Zen Koan…
“What is the sound of one card… linking?”

I sort of have it figured out (I've worked one out).  The video on this site actually offered up a clue, as well as from reading what people have been writing, including from Quinn himself.  I understand now why it most likely can't be done with just any kind of paper.  The type of business card cardstock matters.


malachi said...

Just from looking I would say "delaminate"... with bonus credit for doing it in places that won't show.

The fact that each loop only preserves one original corner of the card is a tell.

High said...

thanks for revealing the secret