Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Israeli Flag Thaumatrope

On the winter of 2005 I invented "the Israeli flag thaumatrope game".

It all began about a year ago when my son and I saw a film called Sleepy Hollow with the actor Johnny Depp. In the film there is a scene in which Johnny is a baby and his mother shows him a thaumatrope, a paper disk which has a bird on one side and a cage on the other and when his mother twirls it on a string Johnny Depp sees the bird inside the cage. Immediately after the film I told my son that we have to find out who makes thaumatropes and to import them. 

A year passed by and one day my son asked me if I can think of a product to import. I described him the thaumatrope that we saw on the film, but I forgot the name "thaumatrope" and the name of the film. My son remembered the name of the film and borrowed a copy of it from the neighborhood video store. We saw the scene of the thaumatrope frame by frame dozen times. Then I looked it up on the Internet and found the name "thaumatrope" and the instructions how to build it. The next week my son and I were busy making all kinds of thaumatropes: clowns with hats, puppies in a frame of a television, and a six pointed star. This last design was original and I thought it captures the essence of Zionism, which is composed of complementary parts that make sense only when they work together; parts like people and country, vision and fulfillment, center and Diaspora.
When the flag was ready my son was not sure if it would sell. A friend of us who is a sculptor thought maybe if we make a three-dimensional weathercock flag people will put it on their cars on Independence Day. Everybody knows that on Independence Day flag makers are making a fortune. So we talked a lot about how such a flag could look, but eventually we had no idea how to make it.
When we had the first Israeli flag thaumatrope in our hands I came up with a new idea: let's make a film, a very short film, to promote the product, and put it on our website so that we could refer potential clients to our domain. My son and film director Aran Patinkin, my friend, agreed to make the film and in two days it was all over, with music and all. I was very proud in my first film and so was my son. It came out better than we thought because the flag was twirling with a wild drum beat on the background and the total effect was just funny.

Making the thaumatrope was easy: we designed it on our computer, took it to a printing shop and made a few thousand flags. Then we had to make two holes on each flag, to put a string in each hole, and to tie the string. We succeeded to make only 100 cards in an hour, but when a salesman came with an offer to sell two hundred thousand flags to the Israeli national flight company we understood that without a machine it will be impossible to fulfill this order. So we went, my son and I, to an efficiency consultant laboratory.
At the beginning of our meeting I showed the consultant the thaumatrope film. He had no loudspeakers so half of the effect of the film was lost, but he couldn't stop twirling the flag in his hands. "By the way, it is an amazing coincidence that I have on my desk a three-dimensional weathercock Israeli flag" he said.
-"really", Asked my son ardently?
The consultant went to his desk and brought us the flag. He twirled it and we so clearly the six pointed blue star. It was so exciting we couldn't speak. What are the odds to find such a new invention? Even if you go to all the efficiency consultants in the world it is unimaginable that you will find what you are looking for. Anyhow the consultant suggested we go to a patent office to ask if we violate anybody's rights. Before we left the laboratory he told us: "I'm sure this flag will sell millions".

Then we went to a patent office and met a religious tall clerk. The clerk couldn't stop twirling the flag throughout the whole meeting. He said there is no violation of any rights because we didn't copy our design from anybody - we've invented a new design based on the invention of the thaumatrope in 1824 and nobody has patent rights on the thaumatrope. We told him that the Israeli national flight company is interested to buy two hundred thousand flags from us.

 "Can I ask you a personal favor?" asked the clerk. 

-"of course"
My brother is a manager in Lufthansa air flight company; can I show him the flag?
-"of course"
"By the way, concluded the clerk, "I'm sure this flag will sell millions".


Glass Star-of-David

Red and white glass Magen David that my son made while he tried to understand how to build the Merkaba 3 dimensional folded paper lampshade.


Transparent Star of David made by my son while he tried to learn how to build the Merkaba folded paper lampshade.

Star of David- Shenkar

Star of David lanterns hung under white Indian stars in Shenkar School End of Year Celebration

Gold and Silver

lantern magen-david
These are the first models of the Star of David decorations. The photo was edited in Photoshop and it has a special meaning for me.

Star of David - Introduction

Six years ago my son imported from India folded paper star shaped lampshades. There were times when the main street of the old city in Jerusalem was lighted by hundreds of those colorful lampshades. It was a beautiful scene. Michael Stern, the renowned event designer, suggested to make the lampshades six pointed so that it will look like a three dimensional Star of David. So we started improvising with the material of our Indian lampshades; but although we succeeded building a six pointed star the angels weren't right.
Later on we saw in the stores a Merkaba pendant, and a Merkaba crystal and it seemed clearer how to build our lampshade. (Merkaba is a three dimensional Star of David). After many more trials and a little help from an engineer we found the right angles and started manufacturing them. The first shipment was of Star of David decorations and the next shipments will be of Star of David lampshades.
The Star of David is also called Magen David or Mogen Dovid or Shield of David or Solomon's seal, or Seal of Solomon. It is recognized as the Israeli national emblem; but for me the Star of David has a very private meaning. I think that the one dimensional Star of David symbolizes the material aspect of Zionism – to build a homeland for the Jews and to blossom the desert. The two dimensional Star of David symbolizes the moral aspect of Zionism- to build a just society. The three dimensional Star of David symbolizes the spiritual aspect of Zionism – to personally get out of the friction energy and to become a light to the gentiles.
This is why a lot of my creative energy is dedicated to the Star of David. I designed a Jewish clock which is shaped like the Star of David. I designed a thaumatrope; a small disk of paper, a blue triangle and a blue stripe drawn on both sides, and the disk is suspended between two pieces of string. When the disk is twirled, the viewer can see the flag of Israel, which is the Star of David between two blue stripes. I made a 46 seconds film about that Star of David thaumatrope - I even ordered from a clay artist a plate that has the Star of David shape.
So now we have these Star of David decorations in our home and they start living their own lives:
· Michael Stern, who suggested making them, used a few dozens for a Bar Ilan University reception for Hillary Clinton in New York Waldorf Astoria on 5 March 2006. They looked very majestic, each one held in a glass of sugar in the middle of the table, sending sparks of light everywhere…
· Two Star of David decorations hang beautifully on Asia's jewelry store next to the King David Hotel.
· Another two Star of David decorations were exhibited on Shenkar Designers School end of the year celebration on 7 February 2006.
· Lately it started shining on the Website of judaica for kids.
We hope that the Star of David lampshades will arrive in time from the manufacturer so that people will be able to hang them in their Sukkah (Tabernacles Feast booth).