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Where do ideas come from—- out of thin air, as if by magic? Or is it in the choreography, the behind-the-scenes, the work with the sleights at hand to generate creative solutions from percieved restrictions?


In this hour long documentary, Carl Diehl shares the life and lessons of his grand uncle Dorny, a popular entertainer in the first half of the 20th century. Embellished with animation and vaudeville era ephemera, Dorny’s history includes Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston, prohibition era pranks, a WWI variety theater troupe, and the Magic Capital of the World.


As with any magic act, misdirection abounds, and Painless Magic wanders through a world bigger than the portrait it appears to be. Through a collage-like constellation of conversations with historians, magicians, contemporary artists, and Dorny’s oldest surviving relatives, Diehl unveils the social scaffolding of creative problem-solving across contexts of art, magic, and everyday life.


AUG 2024: The Art Center, Corvallis, OR



What begins as a biography of the magician, Werner "Dorny" Dornfield, broadens into a mosaic of many riddles and revelations.  Misdirections is a 68 page chapbook, printed with embedded clues that correspond with an affiliated web-based audiovisual trove. Following clues from the book, attentive readers can unlock further anecdotes, images, and vignettes, including original animations by Portland illustrator, Bill Boyer

Order your copy from Antiquated Future


Drawing together archival images, original animations, video vignettes, interviews, and live narration adapted from the book, Misdirections is a live cinema performance-lecture par excellance! Paired with a variety program of cine-magical feats, recent showcases have included videos, films, and performances by: Bill Boyer, Stephanie Hough, Andrew Kim, Kerry Laitala, Aaron O'Neal, Kathleen Quillian, Jeremy Rourke,  Cindy Webster, Weird Faction, and others



NOV 2022: PNCA, Portland, OR

OCT 2022: Other Cinema, San Francisco, CA

MAY 2022: Shapeshifters Cinema, Oakland, CA

MAY 2022: Turn! Turn! Turn!, Portland, OR

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A companion piece to Misdirections:  Idiosyncratic culinary rituals are explored through family history and a metaphorical framework of alchemy. Redesigned from video into an interactive story at this link (sound on, and best viewed on desktop or laptop)

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