With the year quickly coming to an end, it seems only right that we give a recap of all the things that made 2015 such a good year for the art. So sit down, grab a celebratory beverage and some cards, and let’s make it through the list, shall we?
1. Cardistry goes full viral
We’ve had isolated incidents with videos like Odd Man Out, Test Room, and Captivating Cardistry Wizards making rounds on the internet in recent years, but no one could have predicted that we’d have such an avalanche of viral videos making it not only to the frontlines of the internet, but television as well this year.
In January we had Aviv’s “Vibe” going viral on Digg, followed by the release of The Virts’ “Air Time” in March, which exploded on reddit and ended up being featured on places like Gizmodo, 9GAG, Business Insider, the Daily Mirror, UNILAD, YouTube’s official Twitter page, and even Korean news television.
And thanks to the help of his friends Dynamo, StatusSilver, and Kumafilms, Zach Mueller was able to strike a triple-whammy this year with “Black Belt”, “Floating Cards”, and “Hypnotic Cardistry Kid”, respectively. The three videos have over 2.2 million views on YouTube, in addition to all the other exposure they’ve been getting from being featured on other popular viral media blogs and news outlets. Way to go, Zach!
Even performances from non-cardists weren’t exempt from the public eye: in November, Kevin Ho made a solo edit of magician Mahdi Gilbert’s cardistry performances from Portable Playground 2, and it promptly began to be shared by netizens the world over, even ending up on Telemundo!
And with Aviv’s performance of Mockingbird and an excerpt from the Cardistry-Con Battle both being posted on popular FaceBook accounts, that gives us a total of at least 8 videos that have captured the fascinations of tens of millions worldwide, proving that our art form has the capacity to transcend the boundaries of our small subculture, and captivate laymen as a standalone art form.
2. The return of print media
Thanks to our Danish friends, cardistry in booklet form is making a comeback. Earlier this April, Nikolaj Pedersen debuted his “New York Notes” at Cardistry-Con, teaching a handful of his one-handed creations, which was then followed up by Tobias’ “Cardistry from Time to Time”, and Oliver’s “Rectangular Thoughts”.
While cardistry is arguably much better learned from videos, there’s a certain timelessness and permanence to having a move in print, and being able to actually hold the tangible proof of your creations in your hand. And as anyone who’s read the Encyclopedia knows (we’re looking at you, Andrew), there’s a lot of nuance and theory that print is so much more well-suited for — as a reader, you have more time to study the material and the according remarks on it, understand the perspective of the move’s creator and why they made certain creative decisions, and also get a sense of their philosophy towards the art as a whole, which is something that the majority of over-the-shoulder, silent teaching videos out there don’t communicate as well.
And with Tobias’ second print release this year – “OH Ideas” – evoking a coffee-table-book kind of vibe, it’s exciting to think that we’ll continue to have more of these tomes in the future to be able to pick up and marvel at, with the potential for some of them to even achieve prominence in bookstores and libraries around the world, a cool cover shot of a flourish capturing the eye of a casual browser which then gets him/her into the art.
Word has it that at least 3 major names in cardistry are working on a new print publication each for next year, each with their own take on what the medium will best accomplish. Cardists everywhere be warned: you might have to hold off on buying too many custom decks for a little bit, because when these come out, you’ll definitely want to get them before they’re gone.
3. The first documentary focused on cardistry as a profession
Filmed over the course of half a year in both Singapore and the USA, Discovery Channel’s documentary Wild Cards followed what was a whirlwind year for The Virts, all the way from the production and release of Air Time, through the launch of the iconic Spring/Summer 2015 Virtuoso deck, as well as the group’s visit to USPC and Cardistry-Con New York.
In addition to being another example of great mainstream exposure for cardistry this year, the importance of Wild Cards is that it shows that with proper hard work, planning, cooperation, and passion, it is actually possible to make cardistry your full-time job — a message that will hopefully inspire more hobbyists in the future to consider how they might go about achieving the same goal in their own way.
While there haven’t been uploads of Wild Cards to the web — at least not any that have stayed up for more than a week — hopefully that will change in the future, and if so this post will be updated accordingly.
4. Isolations blow up
While the genre of cardistry isolations is not something new by any means — its origins are scattered throughout a multitude of online cam sessions amongst various individuals in the mid-2000s, and even the concept of isolations itself can be traced back to the art of mime and contact juggling, respectively — there’s no doubt that 2015 was the year that isolations took the community by storm.
Re-popularized by cardists like Franky Morales, Zach Mueller, and Noel Heath, the magical nature of creating the illusion of playing cards ‘floating’ and moving on a 2D plane provided for an exciting realm of endless fascination, its seeming simplicity balanced by the fact that while the basic mechanics of motion might be easy, the much more difficult task of maintaining the illusion of non-motion is what separates the n00bs from the pros.
Furthermore, if the million-plus views on “Floating Cards” has shown anything, it’s that they also have a ridiculous mainstream appeal. When done correctly, laymen just ‘get it’ right away, whereas a more abstract two-handed cut might leave some onlookers wondering ‘what’s the point?’. That, and the push-isolation is quite simple to teach to spectators, making isolations a perfect entry point for beginners:
And while isolations have drawn flak from a small fraction of the community who don’t see their potential and see it as a passing fad, the fact of the matter is that the genre is still young, and will continue to see much progression and development over the years as more cardists create and perform with isolations in mind. So if you’re passionate about isolations but are getting bullied by people who think that only two-handed cuts account for real cardistry, remind them that it wasn’t too long ago that certain flourishers didn’t consider two-handed cuts to be a legitimate form of manipulation.
Just don’t forget to practice, because wobbly isolations are pure, unleaded cringe-fuel.
As was the case with isolations, the idea of folding cards and manipulating them isn’t new, as flourishes like the Automatic Flower Fan go to show. But while those kinds of moves were few and far between throughout the cardistry history, the reason why Shivraj Morzaria’s ‘Cardestroy’ is one of the best things to happen to cardistry this year is the sheer amount of ingenuity he’s poured into the genre, opening the minds of its viewers to contemplate all the new avenues there are to explore when you approach the deck as something more than just a collection of flat pasteboards:
Some highlights of the Cardestroy contest entries. (Featuring @vsevolodaxyonov @nguyen.hoang.duy @jameschesmore @magiolopez @harapanong @patch.var @andrew.j.avila.) You guys still have 3 days to enter the contest, Best of luck! #cardestroy #artofplay #highlights #cardistry #whoshuffleslikethat #cardestroycontest #cardestroyy
For more on Shivraj’s creative approach to cardistry, be sure to check out his article ‘Exploring Mechanics‘.
If you don’t know what Squids are, they’re basically like trainers… except they’re not. You see, while the purpose of trainers is to provide a ‘stepping stone’ between you and a move that you can’t do with a regular deck of cards, the point of Squids is that they’re intended to be used in and of themselves.
Invented by Chase Duncan, what separate Squids from trainers is that not only are they optimized for cardistry, they’re also optimized to feel good in your hands. Below you’ll see a video that contains a shot of Chase sanding the Squids, which gives the edges a buttery feel that provides for both a comfortable grip and easy separation between packets when doing cuts:
The corners are also pointed, so that you can do insane spins with them with ease:
And because of the weight and thickness, you can do certain things with them that you can’t do with a regular pack of cards:
And in case you hadn’t noticed before: they’re flexible.
Of course, this is just the beginning for Squids: just like any other tool, no doubt there’ll be a plethora of customisation options in the future, and with a mind like Chase’s there’s definitely going to be new changes and upgrades he’ll be making that will appeal to all the serious cardists out there.
As of this post, there are 4 Squids left on Chase’s Etsy store that will most likely sell out by tomorrow. Here’s a link for those of you feelin’ lucky tonight.
7. Who Shuffles Like That?
Call it a humblebrag, but you couldn’t seriously expect us to leave ourselves out of this list, could you? As our About page describes,
“The goal of this blog… is to provide a platform where these different viewpoints can be shared and expressed in detail — where people can have the breathing room to both expand upon and ruminate on a single subject for more than 15 seconds or 140 characters at a time.”
And from all the awesome contributions we’ve had since June, we’re happy to say that our goal has been reached. Let’s hope that the upcoming year features even more thought-provoking articles and submissions from you guys!
Finally, there’s the event of the year: Cardistry-Con 2015.
In terms of locale, attendance, duration, impact, collaboration, style, and just straight-up, overall craziness, this year’s Cardistry-Con blew last year’s one out of the water by about a billion-fold.
To quote one of the organizers,
“If last year’s Cardistry-Con was Batman Begins, this year’s one is gonna be The Dark Knight.”
And a worthy sequel it was. Never before have so many cardists from so many different countries gathered together in a single location for the sole purpose of pushing the art forward together.
Whether it was the discussion, the jamming, the new projects being unveiled, or the videos being released for the first time, the buzz and vibe of cardistry in the air for that weekend back in April was as noticable as the sound of cards being shuffled, cut, riffled, and sprang throughout the whole convention.
So if you couldn’t make it to this year’s one, you definitely missed out… but not to worry, because there will definitely be one next year. And while it won’t be held in April, rumors suggest a convention date sometime in the summer, somewhere outside of the USA.
So there you have it: our top 8 reasons why 2015 was such a monumental year for cardistry.
Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments below, and have an awesome 2016 everyone!