Hyper Essay Two: lan_mo_shu

This Season Finale live-broadcast was the culmination of a three week performance on Insta-stories via our @lan_mo_shu account.

Initially , we only had 2 crew members to help out, but there were quite a few others who joined in spontaneously on the actual day. The broadcast was done in a single take, with little to no rehearsals. Hence it was amazing to see everyone finding their place in the broadcast, helping with the setting up and the props. Our cameraman was not directed by us, but he was constantly shooting in a way that the tricks looked ‘real’ to the Third Space audience. Everyone was experiencing the event first-hand, even us, the performers.


Lan Mo Shu seeks to create illusion and plausibility for audience in the Third Space who are bounded by the lens of the broadcasting device and to encourage collaboration in the First Space to perform the acts.

We began thinking of the project to be a social broadcasting event in a similar vein as Videofreex (1969 to 1978) to start conversations. It also, unexpectedly, shaped itself into a daily commitment, although not as extensive as Jenny Cam. At first, we were performing these tricks as just two people who were, in no way whatsoever, professional magicians. Very soon, however, a spontaneous community began to grow around this simple idea. People started giving suggestions and even offering assistance in performing the tricks. We accepted their challenge to make this a daily ritual. Past a certain time of day, we would receive reminders  via the First and Third Spaces that we had not posted that day’s video. We really made these things as far as possible in the spirit of Do-It-With-Others, because that energy just kept us going.

One interesting observation to highlight would be how audience in the Third Space refuse to learn of the solutions to the tricks they saw. Similarly, the audiences in the First Space were also trying to help make the tricks convincing for those seeing them through the broadcasting lens. We found this rather motivational for us as performers and yet absurd in the sense that why would people want to help cover-up the lies of these ‘lousy magic tricks’? It seemed like plausibility of the magic was important to them, rather than the quality of the skill in execution.

lan_mo_shu progress and documentation


For this project, we look into the idea of creating an illusion in the third space, internet. Internet being a fictional space available due to technological advancement. Its existence in a virtual world and its ease to generate and share information makes the line between reality and fiction hard to define. Therefore, we thought of the magic performance, another form of medium that playing on the line of reality and fiction. We hope that the similarities in the nature of both mediums will allow us to build on the resources available and provide our online audience a unique experience on the topic of illusion.

Through live broadcasting magic performance, we hope it will allow us to discover new insights and information through exploring areas such as internet authenticity, online persona and identity, and online audience interactions. And lastly, we hope to have a fun experience in our performing magic tricks.

For the online magic performance, we decided to use Instagram as our platform to showcase our tricks. It is a social media platform widely used by people. We hope the huge network of users available from Instagram will allow our performance to reach as many people as possible.

At the same time, we also decided on the direction and approach of our performance. Instead of creating professional looking magic performance, we decided to perform makeshift magic tricks. We feel that the make the shifting aspect of the performance will allow the act to feel more authentic and relatable to the online audience. At the same time, we also want to challenge ourselves in creating with a restriction.

Since we are approaching the project from an experimental angle as we have no prior knowledge of planned performance online let alone performing magic tricks in an online space with the real-life online audience. We are nervous about how the online community will view and react to our performance in the third space. The makeshift nature of our performance also makes us fear the online community treats us as trolls and not take our performance seriously. However, we are also excited in finding out the interaction we can have with our online audience and the kind of bond we will be able to build with them.

Over the course of three weeks, our Instagram account has a healthy growth in the number of followers which allows us to engage with an ever-growing number of audiences with our performance. About half of the followers are our friends which made up the initial base of our followers. From there, our follower base managed to reach out to strangers that took interest in our performance.  Many positive and encouraging feedback were received over this course of time. We are delighted our performance managed to capture the attention of our online audience and have quality interaction with them.


We post on a daily basis to actively engage the audience with our content. We want to make sure they are exposed to our content constantly so we will be able to build a loyal audience pool. However, posting daily also takes a toll on us. A lot of planning is involved in doing video clips of our magic performance. The process of story-boarding, rehearsing and reviewing and refining our performance was time-consuming. This is to ensure we maintain our content quality to keep our online audience engaged.

However, it became more and more challenging to produce great quality makeshift magic content as the days progress. We started to feel the toll of constantly staying connected with the third space. We need to maintain our illusion approach to our performance when performing our other daily routines. We started to personally understand how people who are making a living out of social media platforms felt. The challenge to post on a daily basis while maintaining a balanced life. The pressure of staying relevant in the third space. It is an interesting life experience through the constant need to engage with the online audience with social media platforms.


After getting more comfortable post online content and the quality feedback we are getting from our online audiences, we decided to enhance our content to provide a better experience. We start to experiment with creating and posting special episodes such as Halloween special to stay connected to real-world events. We feel it makes the online audience look forward to such events and allows them to have a better experience while watching our video content. These special dates provide us opportunities to engage our online audience in a different manner other than our daily postings.


We also feature “special guest” to perform makeshift magic tricks on our Instagram account. It is a similar approach to special events. We want the online audiences to look forward to such special performance while equally engage in our daily content. At the same time, we also look forward to seeing what these “special guest” are able to bring to the table. Through involving people, we also want to show our online audience that this online performance is not just about us. Our act of involving people send out the message about our intention to include people in our performance. This performance of illusion is not about us alone but the fruit of collective effort from various people.

Behind the scene

We also feature footage of behind the scenes for our makeshift magic tricks. We feel it will be interesting to show our audience how our illusion is made. Through showing the work in progress scenes, it allows the audience to better understand and appreciate the work we put in producing such content. It also provides them with a unique perspective to our magic performance. We want to understand how our online audience will feel and react when they see the “truth” behind our illusion.

We question the idea of illusion in the third space. It is about something that is not what it seems to be, an idea or belief that is not true. Or it is about knowing something is not true but still choose to believe it to maintain the illusion due to the benefits it brings to them. Or it may be something else that we are yet to find out from our online community.


Besides engaging our online audiences with our daily video posting, we occasionally will post questions. We want to receive feedback and have a general sense of how our content is being received by our online community. The intent is to allow our online community to feel and understand we are real and not merely people that mechanically post video content daily. We want them to understand we care about their participation in our performance of illusion. The responses from the online community are mostly positive and encouraging much to our delight.


Many people had engaged personally with us by commenting on the videos that we posted.  We have people appreciating and praising us for our works. We were quite surprised the online audience feels that our makeshift magic tricks are quality humor content that genuinely brings joy to them. It was fun seeing the responses from our audience. It gives a sense of fulfillment when the audience reacts positively to our videos.

We also have actual magicians that followed us…

We also have people that want to sponsor us…

And of course we have people that took us way too serious…

We are pretty amazed by the positive comments we received by performing makeshift magic tricks in the third space. The possibilities these comments generates made us rethink the impact we are creating online. Our audience buys our performance of illusion and agrees with it. Our approach in our performance of illusion using daily objects are generating a genuine reaction from people online. We provided adequate content to maintain the state of illusion in our performance to stay connected and relevant to our online audience. The positive reaction from the online audience tells us we are on the right track.


Besides commenting on our video posts, our audience also sent us personal messages to either give us personal comments on our content or provide suggestions to improve our video quality. We are really surprised at the level of involvement our audience is willing to put in which fuel us to provide better quality laughter content. Without involvement, there is no commitment. We feel we have successful involved our online audience in our works of illusions. Their commitment to our performance is shown with the influx of personal messages sent to us. Together with our online audience, we are building this act of illusion and keeping it alive for the rest of the online community.

This guy started everything…

We have audiences that reacts positively towards the video…

We also have people that reacted in a sarcastically funny manner towards our videos…

We also have audiences that react strongly when we try to explain how the tricks work. They feel that we should not reveal how the tricks work to them. They are treating us as real magicians and want to maintain the illusion we created. 

Online audiences are even providing inspirations and ideas for us to work on. These are evidences of their commitment in our acts of illusions.  We are really delighted we are able to motivate them to voluntarily involve themselves in our performance.  

And some just can’t wait for the next one…

We feel we have successfully engaged a group of online audience that is actively engaged in our video content. They do not feel that they are merely bystanders watching our content online. They want to get involved and be part of the overall performance. Through the urge to participate, it allows personal connection to be built between us and the online audience in the third space. With their involvement, we are able to keep this act of illusion alive through collective effort made possible in the third space.

We are truly amazed the use of merely daily objects in our performance is able to generate many positive results and feedback that fuel our acts of illusions. Perhaps it is due to the use of these daily objects that made the audience willing to join in maintaining our illusion acts. The use of daily objects enhanced the makeshift nature of our magic performance. It made the online audience has little expectation of our work and makes them more forgiving towards us. When we are able to provide quality content for them. It surprises them and allows them to accept us as the creator of illusion in an online setting.

Their encouragement and support allow us to produce quality video content showcasing our work of illusions. It helps us to maintain and refine our role as “magicians” and motivate us to stay in character. This helps to sell our illusion performance as people see and recognize us as magicians and recognize our act as magic. We, through the belief from our online audience, are genuine magicians providing illusion experience. They help to keep our work of illusion alive.

Their involvement in our performance also serves as a reason for them to keep up with our act of illusion. They do not want to break the illusion of our actions as they have invested adequate time and effort in our performance. They feel that they are part of the illusion as well. Breaking the illusions would means disagreeing with the part of their life that had experienced our performance and react positively to it. This motivates them to keep up with our illusion performance. We are performing and they are part of it. Perhaps that is also part of the “magic” that we are unknowingly performing?

lan_mo_shu behind the scene footage for live stream.

The raw footage of behind the scene during the actual live stream.

These are the screenshots of the insta stories to inform the online audiences for the upcoming live stream and also to hype them up for the actual event.

Screenshots of insta stories of behind the scene preparation for the actual live stream.

For more information, please visit @lan_mo_shu on instagram.