Issue 118 | Jul-Sep 2019

The Master of illusion

Combining his programming skills with theatrical finesse, Mr Alexander Yuen’s (Arts and Social Sciences ’12) iPad magic performances have taken him around the world.

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One might not immediately equate ‘magician’ as the preferred career for Psychology students, but that’s exactly the path Mr Alexander Yuen embarked on immediately after he received his Masters in 2015. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2012. “I was studying emotions for my Masters, and I enjoyed it, but I realised I love magic more,” says Mr Yuen, who more precisely is an iPad magician. “Basically, I merge sleight-of-hand together with technology via the use of the iPad to add another layer of amazement to the audience.”

The fascination with magic began when Mr Yuen was 15, when a friend showed him a card trick. “The card I held in my hand changed to a different one — it was mind-blowing,” says the now-32-year-old, who then proceeded to borrow as many books on magic as he could from the library. He became good enough to conduct shows for children, and by his final year at NUS, had teamed up with co-founder of honestbee Mr Jonathan Low (Engineering ’13) to set up Meta Illusions, a company of magicians for hire. “We were then already dabbling with iPads as tools in our performances,” Mr Yuen lets on. “When Jonathan departed to focus on honestbee, I had to learn how to programme from scratch.”

“Eventually, I’d like to run my own theatre space so I can do magic in a conducive environment, where people are not just there to be amazed and ‘tricked’, but to be moved by the narratives that magic can bring. I want to inspire hope and imagination.” Co-founder of Meta Illusions and iPad magician Mr Alexander Yuen

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His efforts paid off. Mr Yuen’s iPad magic performances, which comprise on-screen animations that come alive, have taken him to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia, India and more. He counts the Singapore Tourism Board, Chopard and Louis Vuitton among his clients. But the work is not all glitz and glamour. “A 30-minute customised performance could take me up to two months to programme and rehearse,” Mr Yuen explains. 
These days, Mr Yuen leads a team of five other aspiring iPad magicians who he mentors. “Magic is often an egotistical artform, and many magicians don’t see the point of training protégés,” he says. “But for me, it is my way of having a say about how magic will be for the next generation.”  
To find out more about Mr Yuen’s magic or to book a customised performance for your corporate events, go to ipadmagician.org
By Fairoza Mansor
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