Vemodalen: The Fear That There Are Thousands of Photographs Identical to Yours
There’s nothing new under the sun. It even says so in the Bible.
One of the major objectives as a creative is to be, well, creative. We long to be different, to stand out from the crowd. And what a crowd it is. With over 7 billion people on this planet, being unique is an exercise in futility it seems. As an artist, realizing this fact may be torturous to our already tortured soul.
Now there is a term for this feeling of abject sorrow, this fear that everything has already been “done.” The knowledge that your inspired image of your sushi dinner, is just one of the thousands of inspired images that have already been photographed of sushi dinners. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, who creates words to name some of these emotions we feel that don’t quite have an official Webster’s dictionary entry, has captured this desolate feeling in the word, “vemödalen.”
vemödalen – n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist–the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye–which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.
The following video points out this fact that there is seemingly nothing you photograph that hasn’t been photographed before, as demonstrated over and over again in a collection of images that are almost identical, each taken by a different photographer. But instead of frustration, the video ascertains, we should take comfort in this as we all contribute to the beauty of the larger picture, that you and 7 billion other people in the world are connected in this human experience.
And dare I add, that inspired image of your Tako Nigiri taken at your favorite sushi joint, may look like everyone else’s sushi dinner, but the one thing that does makes it unique is the moment it was consumed. And the memory of that moment cannot be duplicated.
For a list of photo credits used in Vemodalen, all used under the Creative Commons 2.0 license, click here.