I was recently introduced to the idea of kiln deities in a video by an artist called Sarena Korda. She has started a YouTube channel documenting the process of sets up a studio – which includes a ceramics kiln. In one of her videos, she shows how to make a kiln deity using press mould techniques.
This idea has tickled my imagination, and I’ve decided to make my own deity – an algorithm god. Afterall, I keep banging on about those who are pleased by your sacrificial thumbs and keep me making videos. But who are they, and what do they look like?
Well the practice and ideas behind kiln deities has been around for many centuries and seems to span across the globe. Modern and western kiln deities are expressions of the individual craftsperson interest or curiosities, and sometimes they even look like Pokémon. While in some Chinese regions including Foshan in GuangDong, the Yao Shen – kiln deities are called to protect the firing process and may occupy shrines or temples, such as the Nanfeng Kilns.
The ancient Greeks had five ceramic daemons or daimons – spelt with an a, and not to be confused with demons like those from buffy the vampire slayer. The Daemons plagued the potters craft and had to be bribed or preoccupied before each firing. Their names and the calamity they imbued were also quite interesting.
There was Syntribos (Σύντριβος; a.k.a. Suntribus) who was the shatterer, Smaragos (Σμάραγος; a.k.a. Smaragus) the smasher. Asbetos, who still plagues us today (Ασβετος; a.k.a. Asbetus) and is the charrer or scorcher. Sabaktes who might be my namesake (Σαβάκτης; a.k.a. Sabactes) is the destroyer. And finally, Omodamos (Ωμόδαμος; a.k.a. Omodamus) — the crude-bake or underbaked.
That one’s probably the nicest one of the five – squidgy like cookie-dough.
I’m not sure if the daemons had a physical presence in popular imagination, but kiln deities were often made from unused clay and left to air dry near or upon the kiln while the firing occurred.
In this last year, the fortunate have been able to work in the relative safety of their homes, and an ever increase number of us rely on technology to learn, teach, and work. It’s not uncommon to see the mysterious working of the algorithm gods organising how we find and access information. Where the home and work life balance intermingle, logging on might feel not too dissimilar to loading the kilns shelves. Or turning on the webcam for a meeting or lesson, unlike opening the kiln door to find it was all a waste of time, or you’ve become a superstar on the evening news.
What I’m making on screen may seem unusual but it’s something that makes me feel better about working online and putting my fate in the thumbs of the algorithm gods. I do not have a kiln, so I have used material and tools available to me to visualise mine. The shells of the pistachios are something I’ve manage to collect in abundance while preoccupying my fingers when staring into the screen. I’ve glued them onto the inner cardboard roll of some toilet paper. It’s not clearly anthropomorphised, although the shells look like severed thumbnails – and it stands like a small totem or the severed appendage of a monster from a 1980s erotic-horror manga.
I think the deities name is Thumb-ulous, the god of the thumbs up. And yes, I can wear it on my thumb. There are countless others deities that need to be realised for the others aspects of online life and dealing with the pesky algorithm gods, but I’ll leave that to whoever is watching to make their own.
After I had completing the algorithm god, I then photographed it from all angled and create a 3d model using photogrammetry software. I hollowed out the shape in blender and saved it as an STL file – which you can download, and 3D Print one as well. The way this algorithm god is worshiped or works, is to wear it on your thumb as the video you’d like to be supercharged with likes is being uploaded. Anway lets see how badly this video does.
keep well and stay safe, and you’ll catch me in the next one.
***The algorithm god has not been tested rigorously and may not necessarily a benevolent deity. Make one at your own risk. The algorithm god may smite you if used inappropriately.***
The STL file: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4770426