Jamie Chen, a McCormick junior, believes engineering is similar to performing magic tricks because in both, “you’re creating something out of nothing.”
Last spring, Chen founded NU Magic — a club in which members perform for strangers on the street and aspire to put on formal shows–with Weinberg sophomore Thomas Grudzinski and Bienen sophomore Justin Dresner.
Behind each trick is an investment of time, money and confidence. Of the 48 students who signed up for the NU Magic listserv, only those who make it through an audition will be able to join the three original members in learning, exchanging and performing tricks.
“A lot of people try to figure out the trick,” Grudzinski says. He practices his new tricks only on friends whom he trusts the most. “Magicians know how to steer away from people like that and steer towards people who love magic.”
But for all their confidence and friendly banter when performing, Grudzinski claims to be clumsy, and Chen, a native of Taiwan, says that a language barrier exists between him and most English speakers.
Chen, who used magic as an icebreaker to meet classmates during his freshman year, once spent a week in New York City performing street magic for a high school senior year project.
“If I think that magic is a universal language, then I could connect with strangers too,” Chen says. “My hands were shaking, but once you get in a couple of performances, once things get moving . . . I make them believe in something.”
A good magician, Grudzinski says, injects personality into his tricks, going beyond the mechanics and entering the minds of his audience. NU Magic hopes to be performing regularly for students by next quarter and, as Grudzinski says, “bring more magic into Northwestern.”