The more I learn about the Center for Tactical Magic— the artist collective that's presenting tonight at 7:30 as part of Portland State University's art and social practice MFA lecture series— the more I like the clever and whimsical group. In the most direct possible language, the Center for Tactical Magic is a collaborative team of artists who incorporate both historical and modern concepts of magic in their work. In less direct terms, here's a bit more about the collective in their own words:
The Center for Tactical Magic engages in extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts.
- The Center for Tactical Magic
- The Center for Tactical Magic's Magic(k) Wands
That's all to say, we aren't talking card tricks here. Back in 2008 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Center for Tactical Magic exhibited Magic(k) Wands, which the artists described as “a display of the most encompassing symbol of magic: the wand.” Included were remote controls, personal massagers, bar code scanners, laser pointers, and other wand-like instruments— contemporary parallels to the enchanted handheld objects of yore. While it's funny work, I can totally picture some circa-1700s baron losing his cape over a TV clicker, which says a lot about how, nowadays, we consider so many amazing things to be totally unremarkable.
But it's not all punch lines with the Center for Tactical Magic. 2009's Witches' Cradles invited audiences to participate in a combination of sensory deprivation and medieval torture that you should see for yourself: