Remote Cubetrol

I swear guys, this is the last Rubik's Cube idea I'll be posting here for the foreseeable futures ( far as I know). 

I wanted to introduce the concept of The Artist Distracted in last Wednesday's post because that is the manner in which I've been performing this trick, although you could do it with a more traditional presentation too. 

The idea started because I was getting into some cube magic and I wanted to re-learn how to solve the cube. This is something I learned a few years ago, but it's the sort of thing where if you don't practice the algorithms now and again, you'll forget about 65% of it. (And a 35% solved cube is less than impressive.) This is the method I use to solve the cube. It's pretty basic and not overly quick, but I can usually solve a cube with it in 60-90 seconds, depending on if I get lucky with the layout.

So, when I have something like this that I'm trying to learn/re-learn/keep fresh in my mind, I usually try and tie it to something else I will naturally do regularly in my life, so whenever I do the one thing I'll do the other. In this case, since I go to a cafe most days of the week, I decided to make it a habit of solving the cube before I took my first sip of coffee and cracked open my laptop. 

One thing I wasn't anticipating was that people stare at someone who solves a Rubik's Cube in public. I would consistently see two people in conversation and one of them would be looking over the other person's shoulder and concentrating on me, seeing if I was going to figure this dumb thing out. I'm not someone who crave's attention from strangers. It doesn't make me uncomfortable, it's just not my thing. The only thing that did make me uncomfortable was the idea that maybe they thought I was solving a Rubik's Cube publicly because I wanted their attention.

But while it wasn't something I sought, I did realize the potential value of an activity that drew people's eyes in public. Thats's the perfect sort of thing for an Artist Distracted style of trick.

So here's what I started doing. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 4.28.37 PM.jpg

I would get my food and drink and sit myself down at a somewhat central location in the cafe or lounge seating area. 

I'd pull out the cube and start "solving" it, and as I was doing this I would keep an eye out for whoever's attention was grabbed by this activity. Once I had identified a primary target, I would sort of cheat myself in their direction so they would get the best view of what was about to happen.

After 90 seconds or so of mixing up the cube (and seemingly making no progress) I would sigh loudly, or maybe mutter something under my breath. The next moment is the important moment and I need to make sure I have the target's attention. So, with broad movements, I would take off my hat and put the mixed up cube underneath it (or I'd put it under a napkin, or in a little bag the baked goods come in). And I'd centralize that on the table in front of me.

Then I'd reach into my bag and pull out an all white cube. I'd start mixing up this all white cube as if I'm solving it. At one point I may take a peek under the hat or the napkin. I do a few more twists and turns with the white cube, set it down, then pull the hat away, and now that cube is solved.

Here's a compressed version of the effect...



What am I implying here? Well, just that moving the white cube has somehow solved the real cube. But beyond that, I don't know. That's what makes it perfect for an Artist Distracted presentation. I don't need to justify anything because I didn't ask them to watch, they're the one spying on me.

So maybe they see it as a trick. Or they may see it as some electronic gizmo that somehow solves the cube by proxy. Or maybe there's some connection between the cubes on some level they can't imagine. I think more often than not they just don't know what to think.

The method is, of course, just a one-handed solve. The one I use is from Takamiz Usui's Penguin Live lecture. 

I've performed this seven times now.

Twice it didn't hit. Either I didn't have their full attention when I placed the mixed up cube under the hat, or their attention was drawn away at some point so they didn't follow it completely, or whatever. This is one of the "drawbacks" of the Distracted Artist/Artist Distracted style. But I honestly don't mind it. I think it's funny when I go through the effort to do something like this and no one notices. 

Of the five time it hit:

Twice the reaction was identical. I heard the target spectator say in a weak voice, "What...the...fuck?" 

Twice the target spectator came over to me almost immediately and asked what they just saw. 

One other person grabbed my arm as I was on my way out and asked me what happened.

Of the three people who confronted me, once I sort of let on that it was a trick, and twice I just kind of played dumb. "What happened? Oh yeah. I don't know how it works. My friend gave this to me. [I give them the white cube to examine and slide the other one over to them too, so they can see they're just normal.] I just kind of imagine I'm solving this cube and it solves the other one. I'm not sure how it's all connected." They were coming to me for some clarity about what happened, and I wanted to make them leave feeling more bewildered.

One time it hit with my target spectator and three others who were watching. In this performance I had my headphones on and was bopping a little like I was listening to something but really I was just paying attention to their reactions. Out of my peripheral vision I could see them looking at each other (they weren't with each other) and pointing and mouthing words. It was almost a comic level of confusion on their part. I wanted them to share the moment so I packed up my stuff and grabbed my iced coffee and went outside. I saw a couple of them huddled together through the window afterwards. I would have loved to have a recording of their theorizing.

Of course you could do this with a straightforward presentation as well, in the context of a normal presentation. "Here is a mixed up Rubik's cube. I place it in this bag. Please examine this all-white cube. [blah, blah, blah] Now when I 'solve' this white cube, it magically solves the other cube." (I hope it goes without saying that's the essence of the presentation, not an actual script.) Then you could end with a dumb joke and say, "It actually works the other way too." Put the white cube under the hat, jumble up the normal cube, remove the white cube and be like, "See?"