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Inventing the Impossible | Marco Tempest

By Charles Tiu

Marco Tempest is a cyber illusionist, combining magic and technology to produce astonishing tricks and bring seemingly impossible scenarios to life.

“I’m not a futurist, but I imagine what is captivating to us in the near future are robots and flying machines,” said Tempest. Artificial intelligence is the new thing to be curious about.

Collaborating with engineers, animators, and programmers, Tempest is a supporter of the open source community. “I’m a little bit of an inventor,” he says. When he creates software and machinery in his New York lab, he open sources his creations—whether they work better or worse than expected—so other artists can benefit from it or build upon it.

Tempest began his performing career as a stage magician, winning many awards and establishing an international reputation as one of the world’s most unique performers. His interest in computer-generated imagery led to his incorporation of video and digital technology in his work and the development of a new form of illusion. In the age of the internet and social media, his digital illusions and desire to interact with audiences were ripe with opportunity.

“I use magic to show what future technology can be experienced,” Tempest says. It’s as if he’s prototyping the future through magic. As his illusions demonstrate, the future is full of wonder and awe—and it’s inspiration for all of us to dream of better things.

“I really enjoy that vector of what is possible.”

Tempest is a media consultant for magic and illusion. He lectures at international conferences on the psychology of deception and creative thinking. He’s also a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.