We’re delighted to introduce the 15 Early Career Researchers who have been selected to present their cutting edge research at the AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event on 26th March 2014. The event will be held at the Natural History Museum and limited tickets are still available.

The eighth Science in Culture Theme Ignite Speaker is:

JOHN ARMSTRONG, University of Sussex, ‘Magic, Suggestion and Experience Design’

ARMSTRONGIn the spirit of Ignite can you describe your topic in 140 characters?

This talk will discuss the possible application of magic’s extraordinary performance techniques to the field of experience design.


What would you like people to take away from your Ignite talk?

I would like people to understand the depth of thought and practical research that has gone into the study and performance of magic over the centuries, and to leave excited by the potential applications of this secretive art.

How did you get involved in interdisciplinary research across Sciences and Arts and Humanities?

As is the case with many magicians, I have practised magic since I was very young. I have also always been passionate about the creative and technical aspects of theatre. I co-formed Simply Told theatre company, and all these elements came together when we began experimenting with using magic techniques to create immersive theatre experiences. This has, in turn, fed into my magic practice, and eventually led me to pursuing a practice-based PhD in this area.

Tell us a bit about your academic background.

My first degree was a BSc in Human Geography. I loved this for its concern with how people operate in the world, and the ways in which their experiences re-map their psychological landscapes. Later on, I completed an MA in Dramatic Writing, which helped give me the confidence to pursue theatre and performance as a career. Since then I have developed my theatre and magic practice, am now working as a magic consultant, and have presented and performed at a number of conferences. I have also recently had a chapter published on magic and immersive theatre.

Additional information:

Reviews of my work include:

“Cunning beauty” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

★★★★ “Freakishly brilliant…theatrical genius” Greenwich Newsshopper

“Jewel-like, beautiful and intimate” Jean Franczyk, Director of MOSI

“Rather special” Brighton Argus

Further details about my work can be found here:



Guardian panel on micro-performance

Book chapter

A film of Jon Armstrong’s presentation at the AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event is available here.