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. | ETYMOLOGY: From Swedish vemod, «tender sadness, pensive melancholy» + Vemdalen, the name of a Swedish town. Swedish place names are the source of IKEA’s product names—the original metaphor for this idea was that these clichéd photos are a kind of prefabricated furniture that you happen to have built yourself. As a side note, the umlaut isn’t proper Swedish, but I liked the idea of a little astonished face (ö) sitting in the middle of the word.
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