Quick site update: I just added a new silhouette I cut of Friedrich Nietzsche, the profound 19th century philosopher, to the art section.
Speaking of the 19th Century, I owe it to myself and you all to say a few words about Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. The last name may seem familiar to you, and that isn’t a coincidence. A young Erich Weiss was influenced by a book written by Houdin to become a magician. As an homage to his early idol, Weiss added an ‘i’ to Houdin’s name, forever-after assuming the name Houdini. And that is the story of the origin of Harry Houdini’s name.
Among Houdin’s many accomplishments, he is credited with modernizing magic for the 19th Century audience. Up to that point, magicians would perform as wizards, frequently dressing as Merlin for their acts. Houdin saw the over the top absurdity of this approach, and revolutionized performance by presenting his illusions as a sensibly dressed, elegant, Belle Epoque era gentleman. He set the precedent of magic being a reflection of contemporary sensibilities and culture, something that David Blaine is often credited with in modern times.
Additionally, utilizing his skills as a clockmaker, Houdin created brilliant automata used in his act. Automata were machines, often fashioned to look and act like humans or animals. Most astoundingly, the automata were built before electricity was harvested and effectively used by humanity. One of his most popular mechanical inventions was the Orange Tree illusion, a CG version of which was featured in the film “The Illusionist” starring Edward Norton.
I highly suggest reading up on Houdin, because his accomplishments were both vast and incredible.