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Leonardo Myers
Leonardo Myers

Smoking Mirrors

Smoke and mirrors is a classic technique in magical illusions that makes an entity appear to hover in empty space. It was documented as early as 1770 and spread widely after its use by the charlatan Johann Georg Schröpfer, who claimed the apparitions to be conjured spirits. It subsequently became a fixture of 19th-century phantasmagoria shows. The illusion relies on a hidden projector (known then as a magic lantern) the beam of which reflects off a mirror into a cloud of smoke, which in turn scatters the beam to create an image.

Smoking Mirrors

Johann Georg Schröpfer coined the concept of smoke and mirrors as a common feature of stage magic and 19th-century phantasmagoria shows. The illusion technique traditionally uses a magic lantern or image projector and a light source to cast onto a conjured smoke in thin air to portray illusions of the floatation, existence and disappearance of objects.

The earliest known use of the idiom came from the biography How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer, published in 1975. It was written by American political journalist James Breslin, who accounted the Watergate political scandal in Washington first-hand. Breslin often alludes the impeachment political sphere to semantic images of "blue smoke and mirrors", where magicians use smoke and mirrors to accomplish illusions such as making objects misleadingly disappear. Towards the end of the 20th century, the term became commonly used to describe the complex system of political culture and affairs in the media and publications across the world. The application of the idiom "smoke and mirrors" in politics also led to the book Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, published by journalist Dan Baum, and its popularity in modern media articles.

In 1865, a British academic created one of the most famous mirror tricks, the Sphinx Illusion, which was popularized by magician Colonel Stodare. The illusion claimed to reveal the disembodied head of the Sphinx, which had been cursed by a pharaoh. The underpinning of the illusion is two contiguous mirrors angled so that they reflect a surrounding background material, while the subject merely kneels behind with the head presented above the whole artifice. The detached head appears to float. This fundamental principle of reflection is still essential to deception.

Even though we know that the magician's tool kit of "smoke and mirrors" contains misdirection, duplication, false bottoms, and manual dexterity, we enjoy knowing we've been deceived and trying to figure out how that happened. Magic makes our brain refuse to accept what our eyes claim to have seen.

The peoples of ancient Mexico used polished obsidian mirrors, or tezcatl, as instruments of divination. By gazing into a mirror's smoky depths, sorcerers traveled to the world of gods and ancestors. Obsidian mirrors are an apt metaphor for images of ancient Mexican sites and objects: they reflect the viewer as well as the object.

Yucatan Mirror Displacements, his resulting art piece, exists as three interrelated but discrete works: the physical placement of the mirrors in the landscape; photographs of the mirrors; and an article in Artforum whose was text modeled after Stephens's Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (1843).

Smithson photographed mirrors near Maya ruins, in the jungle, and beside the sea. His images do not show tangible artifacts; rather, they capture the mirrors arranged in the natural elements and as they reflect their surroundings.

Smithson's term "mirror-travel" describes how the reflective surfaces of the mirrors highlight the displacement of time and space. Yet, as Smithson reminds us, art does not truly reflect life. Yucatán is elsewhere.

This exhibition explores representations of Mexican archaeological objects and sites made from the Colonial era to the present.From the first moments of contact, Mexico's indigenous civilizations evoked in their European conquerors an array of unsettling emotions ranging from fascination to fear. Eradicating populations, destroying monuments, suppressing native religions, and collecting and classifying cultural objects were among the methods used for containing and framing native cultures. Pre-Columbian Mexico, real and imagined, became the subject of innumerable books, treatises, and images. Each iteration assigned new meanings and contributed to the ever-evolving construction of ancient Mexico.The objects in this exhibition were created over the past five centuries by explorers, archaeologists, and artists who have in one way or another used Mexico's Pre-Columbian past as a vehicle for their journeys. Each object is informed by the time and place in which it was made. None are pure reflections of the sites or artifacts they portray. All produce refractions, slices of an object that cannot be reassembled into a whole. As such, they are all mirrors that displace the time and space of ancient Mexico.

Yet, despite the fact more research is needed, there is enough evidence implying the immediate health risks in using them brings. The negative health consequences from long-term tobacco use and smoking either cigarettes or cigars took decades to prove.

Drawn to the fruity flavor cartridges, or trying to wean from traditional tobacco products, or even to curtail hunger, many people believe e-cigarettes or "vaping" is safer than smoking cigarettes and simply not addictive.

For those wishing to argue that "vaping" is safer than smoking and an effective way to quit, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the surgeon general's office, public health groups, and others point to the evidence disputing such a claim.

While some adult users may have successfully quit smoking and attribute it to "vaping," the fact remains that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive, dangerous substance. Furthermore, some argue that "vaping" can be a gateway to regular cigarettes.

Recently, a study observed more than 6,000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 to determine if e-cigarettes are increasing the odds for teen smoking. What was found was that e-cigarettes were the premiere choice for those who chose to smoke and once they began, they also moved on to traditional cigarettes.

I understand the expression comes from the world of magic shows. A magician depends upon smoke and mirrors to perform his tricks. The mirrors help create an illusion, and the smoke is frequently used to divert the attention of the audience.

Despite 50+ years of public health efforts to reduce smoking rates in the United States, approximately one-fifth of the adults living in this country continue to smoke cigarettes. Previous studies have examined smokers' risk perceptions of cigarette smoking, as well as the perceived benefits of quitting smoking. Less research has focused on the perceived benefits of smoking among current cigarette smokers. The latter is the main focus of the present paper. Questionnaire-based interviews were conducted with a community-based sample of 485 adult current cigarette smokers recruited from the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area between 2004 and 2007. Active and passive recruiting approaches were used, along with a targeted sampling strategy. Results revealed that most current cigarette smokers perceive themselves to experience benefits as a result of their cigarette use, including (among others) increased relaxation, diminished nervousness in social situations, enjoyment of the taste of cigarettes when smoking, and greater enjoyment of parties when smoking. Perceiving benefits from cigarette smoking was associated with a variety of tobacco use measures, such as smoking more cigarettes, an increased likelihood of chain smoking, and overall negative attitude toward quitting smoking, among others. Several factors were associated with the extent to which smokers perceived themselves to benefit from their tobacco use, including education attainment, the age of first purchasing cigarettes, the proportion of friends who smoked, hiding smoking from others, being internally-oriented regarding locus of control, and self-esteem.

The trick caught on from there and was used in a variety of ways to fool people for various reasons. Today, the term smoke-and-mirrors can be applied to almost anything that turns out to be a fraud or a misrepresentation of what is actually happening.

Considering the image that this expression conjures, it is surprising to find that its earliest known use is not in the heydey of vaudeville and the traveling circuses, but much more recently - apparently in the 1970s. Miriam-Webster cites its first appearance as 1979, but in his Notes from Impeachment Summer (1975), American journalist Jimmy Breslin uses very similar wording twice:"All political power is primarily an illusion... Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors..." "The ability to create the illusion of power, to use mirrors and blue smoke, is one found in unusual people."Which was then paraphrased in the Lowell Sun later the same year:"Jimmy Breslin alluded to .... blue smoke and mirrors in his recently published book on an impeachment summer."

Smoke & Mirrors provides an insider's view of the Canadian tobacco war, a hundred-year old conflict that began to escalate in the 1980s. Written by a prominent antismoking advocate, the book explains how Canada emerged as a global leader in the public health crusade to regulate the powerful tobacco industry. Author Rob Cunningham exposes the industry's deception and tactics; and describes in fascinating detail the bitter campaigns to maintain high tobacco taxes, ban tobacco advertising, eliminate tobacco sponsorships, require plain packaging, mandate clear health warnings, and prohibit smoking in public places and workplaces. 041b061a72


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