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I always liked Hindu religious icons, especially the ones of Ganesha, the avatar with the elephant head. So I wanted to draw my own kind of icon with a different species, but since I'm a huge nerd I HAD to learn about the symbolism of Hindu icons in order to get it right. Every item depicted in icons has a meaning which recalls religious concepts, myths or historical events, so I tried to keep the overall flavor but replace the traditional symbols with my own symbols, making them allegories of current ideas and current world facts.

About the avatar herself:

- At first I wanted to make her a tiger, but since tigers seem to be negative symbols in hinduism I thought a bit more about it and I settled on a snow leopard. They used to be rare and obscure creatures until a few decades ago, but nowadays we are obsessed with dragging obscure things under the spotlight and so the ethereal snowmeows have gained a sort of superstar animals among animals.

- She is mostly naked because modesty doesn't belong to this age, many people compulsively need to show their goods and possibly their fetishes too (hence the multiple breasts).

- A necktie is the most recognized symbol of corporate power. It may look silly in the picture's context but there is no mocking intent here, corporate power is a very solid form of power and many people devote their life to earning a corporate suit and everything it represents.

- The head gear she wears is the "Karanda-makuta" worn by lesser Hindu deities. Nothing changed there, but I made sure the gem in the head gear and the gem in the belt match the color of minerals related to Thorium, which will play a vital role for the future of India as a power source. The green gem is a thorite crystal and the gray gem is pure thorium in metallic form.

- The iPod airbud (missing in the sketch) stands as a little symbol of social alienation. Some people get so lost in their personal worlds that they no longer want to see or hear what happens in the real world around them.

- Hindu avatars are often portrayed along with an animal which serves as their "ride" (regardless of its actual size) and is closely associated to them. For her I have chosen the kakapo, another obscure animal which has been saved from the brink of extinction and became rather famous right because it was disappearing. Looked like a good symbol for the many contradictions in our behavior towards nature.

About the hands:

- The upper left hand holds a burning smartphone. I wanted to show a symbol of power coming from limited natural resources, burning because many resources are running out quickly. A smartphone fits the role perfectly because it is both a status symbol and a powerful tool for ordinary people (especially in developing industrial powers like India), but consumer electronics in general turn out to be a huge waste of natural resources thanks to the retarded policies of their producers. (In the sketch the hand held a wooden dagger but it didn't make much sense, too abstract as a symbol of "power from natural resources".)

- The center left hand is casting a blessing with a very traditional gesture. Even in the messy world of today religious faith is stronger than ever.

- The lower left hand is holding two scrolls and a DVD (the DVD was missing in the sketch). A single scroll was a traditional symbol of knowledge, but today knowledge is so vast that a single scroll didn't seem enough, and even then there is knowledge in the form of data sheets, videos etc. which needs a more modern support. The hand and scrolls are partially hidden by a golden veil though, because we live in a very anti-intellectual age and culture is often despised and hidden under tons of gilded distractions.

- The upper right hand is holding a broken three pronged spear. Such a spear traditionally represented the three "guna", three categories used to classify worldly things according to their spiritual value. The categories are "Sattva" (things which are pure in their natural status), "Rajas" (things which have been altered) and "Tamas" (things which have been tainted or destroyed). Some philosophers used the three categories to classify food, so natural food such as fresh fruit is considered Sattva, cooked food is considered Rajas, and spoiled or heavily processed food is Tamas. I picked up this food reference and painted the spear with the first two prongs broken because in our age junk food is by far the most popular and threatens to replace everything else, in spite of being just a little step above eating rotten shit. The McDonald's symbol I added in the final version is in turn the most recognizable symbol of junk food.

- The middle right hand is holding a rusting axe. The axe was another traditional symbol representing the wish to separate the soul from matter and worldly concerns: a ideal which is now crumbling as neuroscience progresses and gathers proof after proof that there is no clear separation between matter and mind. Hence the axe in the picture is rusted and crumbling.

- The lower right arm doesn't end with a hand but with a wounded animal paw. This is meant to be another symbol of the ambiguous human behavior against nature: there are many suffering paws around the world, and even though we try to repair some of the damage we cannot seem to stop the bleeding.

- She needed a large fluffy tail to stress that she is not a symbol of an actual deity to contemplate, but first and foremost a cute animal who might enjoy a hug. The tail holds a lotus blossom, a traditional symbol of purity, because today untamed nature seems to be the only thing which give people a feeling of actual purity.

About the scenery:

- The throne's shape is an approximation of the Mandelbrot set fractal and the shapes of the tiles on the throne's base should be fairly easy to recognize as bricks from the Tetris videogame. Geometrical patterns have always been used for decoration but I wanted to use two patterns which would have been unknown or meaningless in ancient times.

- The lamps behind the throne (missing in the sketch) are kerosene lamps. Kerosene lamps are very diffused in rural households of countries which don't have an ubiquitous power grid and they are often the only reliable sources of light and heating for some homes. In such conditions owning a lamp can lead to improvements in the life of a family for a variety of reasons, for example it allows people to read in homes with poor illumination and after sunset, which is often the only time of day when there is time for studying. Kerosene lamps are prized because of this but they are a mixed blessing since they are very polluting and prone to cause deadly accidents. They seemed to fit the picture's theme very well.

- The ground is a patchwork or fertile areas and barren ground, just like some parts of India itself are becoming due to bad agricultural policies.

- The plate on the left contains kaju-barfi and petha, traditional candies from northern India and the Himalaya region where snow leopards may be found. In the final version I've also added two "Dairy Milk" chocolate bars by Cadbury - one of the most popular industrial candies in India.

- The cup on the right contains lotus petals, maize cobs and a Romanesco broccoli head. Maize is by far the most powerful plant of the planet since it dominates the Western food market and the USA population in particular is totally dependent on maize for its nutrition. So it deserved to be in the picture as a symbol of arrogance and ignorance of our actual dependence on the environment. Romanesco broccoli are well known for their fractal shape so I though they'd be a cute symbol of geekiness. Today in spite of all problems many people have access to good information and this has a variety of small effects on everyday life. Even little things like an appreciation of the fractal broccoli because of the science behind them are signs that culture is much more widespread than it ever was in the past.

The title is a reference to Joseph Fourier, the French physicist who laid the mathematical foundations of harmonic analysis. Harmonic analysis is one of the pillars of computing and has so many practical uses that it literally influences everything, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseable future. Incidentally he was also the first physicist to theorize the greenhouse effect.