Call him a magic engineer.
Like Michael Caine's character in the movie The Prestige, illusion designer J.C. Sum constantly finds himself having to engineer new magic shows in order to keep up with the competition.
Mr Sum is the founder and creative magic producer for Concept Magic, a 'magic production house' which creates performances.
Regarded as one of the region's top illusionists, he has won two International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) 'Linking Rings'. The IBM is the world's largest association for magicians and its Linking Ring magic journal gives out the annual awards for original illusions.
Singapore's most famous magician, his weekly Street Illusions segment on Channel 8's Top Fun variety show drew about 500,000 viewers every week, while his Magic in Motion series airs on Singapore Press Holdings' MediaBoxOffice (SPHMBO) Motion Media Network daily in the Central Business District and major shopping malls. Not to forget his 2,000 performances in places ranging from the Middle East to the US.
His experience has gone into the writing of three books on professional illusions, and he has sold them to his counterparts in 32 countries, including the US, Japan and the UK. The books cost between US$85 ($130) and US$125, and are not available in Singapore. But that measure to protect his livelihood here may possibly be obsolete.
Professional magicians like himself are finding technology a double-edged sword. It is breeding a new generation of magic 'effects' - for he abhors calling his methods 'tricks'.
Bluetooth is now used in several effects. In one application, it is used to produce the illusion of mind reading. According to Mr Sum, American magician David Blaine used a technique similar to bluejacking of cellphones in order to 'read' the minds of spectators in his Street Magic TV show which aired in 1997.
Magicians have always been one rung ahead on the technology ladder, said Mr Sum: 'Magic has always utilised technology. Things like using light as a projection source for film - magicians used it to create ghostly images. And that was before projection techniques were known to the public.
But using technology in magic can also be a life or death issue. In the movie Faces of Death, he points out, an escape artist is killed when a concrete slab with knives stuck into it falls onto his face.
Mr Sum has a similar trick called the Death Bed Of Spikes, in which he is handcuffed and has to escape from under a bed of spikes before it falls on him.
Where once the spikes would have been held up by fishing lines and the illusionist's life depended on an assistant releasing them at the right moment, the release mechanism can now be controlled wirelessly via remote control. This virtually eliminates the possibility of a fatal mishap. Computers are also used to activate mechanisms for other equipment.
Like most high-tech setups, these do not come cheap. Ten years ago, a performance cost Mr Sum $3,000 to produce.
Today, it costs $30,000. The system for the Death Bed of Spikes cost $15,000 alone.
On the other side of the technology coin, however, a new generation of tech-savvy magic enthusiasts can now use the Internet to uncover most secrets.
Previously an aspiring magician had to learn from a single mentor or books. But magic enthusiasts today can draw on websites like Youtube which hosts how-to videos, DVDs and online magic communities.
One such 'next-generation' performer is Ning Cai, 23, Singapore's only female professional magician. She is also one of the moderators of the Singapore Magic Circle (www.singaporemagiccircle.com) community. It currently has about 1,175 registered members, mostly teens and young working adults.
As with many other tech-savvy youth her age, she eventually harnessed the power of the Internet to pursue her passion as a profession, starting her own online shop selling magic equipment at www.thelittlemagicshop.com.
And she's doing a roaring trade - profits from sales on the website, catering mainly to local enthusiasts, average about $5,000 a month.
She admits that without the Internet, she may not got as far as she did. Said Miss Cai: 'I wouldn't have known how to reach the community. I wasn't even aware of the International Brotherhood of Magicians prior to the forum.
'I'm from the MTV generation. Books don't do it for me. I prefer to watch DVDs to learn.'