Spotify

 

It started with iTunes not too long ago. Legal, digital music. Already back then there was opposition on all sides. Musicians not getting paid enough, scared of illegal sharing. Labels seeing their business model change and consumers having to put up with useless copy protection and lower quality than before, on something they paid for. Yet it was truly a revolution caused by illegal downloading such as Napster. When Spotify showed up about three years ago, we could see the next step in this revolution. Suddenly you could create online playlists and share them online. You could search and listen to music on the go on your cellphone without first storing it on your computer. The same debates about pros and cons are still there. Just slightly different.

But there is something in this that you seldom hear about and that is what happens when something becomes next to infinite. Even though there are limitations, they are next to nothing. Spotify market themselves as having more than fifteen million songs that you can freely listen to for about $5.
While the issue is considered to be money, about how much and when, I find myself observing a change in my behaviour. I find myself listening less and less to music on Spotify or in iTunes. To have everything at your fingertips is no longer a sense of freedom but a sense of indifference.

What I have noticed is that when something becomes free and unlimited, the same thing happens to music as with money in a state of hyperinflation. When you have it all, it’s value is depreciated.
Six months ago, I got myself a record player, bought my first vinyl record since 1993. Suddenly, music was fun again. You know that feeling you have when you’re a kid and can only afford one record and even have to save up for it. Now I find myself thinking every now and then that I should cancel my Spotify account and erase all mp3s on my computer. I probably won’t do that, it is still very convenient when you are on the move and great for finding new music. But the thought is there.

I allow myself one album per month at the most. I could get more of course, but I don’t want to. Instead I want to go down, buy a record I have been thinking about for a long time, buy it, come home and slowly open the wrapper and put it on. Hold it while the music starts. Ane Brun’s latest album, my favourite at the moment, “It All Starts With One”, is already scratched. It has a weird sound for about 30 seconds. I found it annoying and thought about getting it replaced, but now it’s part of it’s personality.
Music is no longer a throw-away thing, but something I care for. I am building a relationship with the album and its creator. I show respect to the artist and the hard work he or she has put into making it the way it is, to share a vision and a part of themselves.

In our society, limitation has become a curse word, but I look upon it as a calling to go deeper. It has turned into a kind of enjoyment and pleasure that I had forgotten in all this extravaganza.

 

Postcard from Belgrade, Serbia

 

I realized the other day that I had already put up some of my recieved postcards without writing about it here, so I had to take them down and re-scan them.

This postcard comes from Nick that I met in San Francisco in July last year.
On an almost empty street we were both standing outside a bar after a couchsurfing meeting and started talking. We only had time to talk a few minutes, but made plans to hook up later. That didn’t happen however, for some reason I can’t remember.

Nick is studying to be a fire engineer and had just been accepted to a two year masters degree in Europe, first going six months to Scotland, then another six months in Lund in the south of Sweden and finally a full year in Belgium. During spring break, he came up for a week to Stockholm and surfed my couch, while exploring the city and hanging out.
After he finished the semester he went to Serbia and then to Ethiopia and while in Belgrade he sent this postcard of the former Jugoslavian dictator Tito and his wife. He looks kind of evil, right? (Tito that is).

Last I heard, Nick was in Belgium.

 

Solitude

 

I took last week off and spent it in my family’s cottage house on the countryside, between Enköping and Strängnäs, about an hours drive from Stockholm. Arriving Friday evening for ten days of peace and quiet. I spent the first six days alone and then had company over the weekend before going back home together.

November has been mild so far. No snow and almost too warm to wear a winter coat. It’s grey and lifeless after the leaves have fallen off the trees and no snow that lights up the darkness that hits you by surprise every winter. Isn’t it weird how one can forget what winter feels like every year?
Every summer, it feels unlikely it can ever become cold and white with a darkness that never lets go, but every winter you wonder how it is possible to ever get warm again. In this weather, walking around in shorts and a t-shirt and sweating seem impossible.

A few times a year, I think we need some time on our own. To get away, turn off our phone. Not checking e-mail or facebook. Just sit in a couch and be bored. Spend our days reading, going on walks, sit in front of a fire drinking tea. Not read newspapers about sovereign debt or watch tv shows. Not go shopping or running from activity to activity.
I have found, that the best inspiration comes from silence. We are so used to constantly being bombarded by sights and sounds and consuming experiences that we never really allow ourselves time to let things sink in before we are well in to the next thing. When we take a time out we let this happen, start the sorting process inside us where everything automatically finds it’s right place. It becomes the foundation on which we have new experiences, a self-correcting therapy, and when we get back changes come by themselves without our intervention or force.

To sit down by the water of lake Mälaren watching the sunrise is both better therapy and considerably cheaper. No matter how many museums we go to, how many beautiful paintings we see or how often we go through the centre of Stockholm with it’s beautiful architecture, we humans will never create anything as wonderful as what we are surrounded by daily. A sun rising is worth more than all the Rembrandts’ and Picassos’ combined.

We live without breathing sometimes. Thinking we enjoy all the activities we are in the middle of but they never really satisfy, and because of this, we need to repeat them, over and over, throwing ourselves into new ones constantly. Better and faster than the ones before. While we are watching a movie, we are thinking about what we will do when it is over. When we eat our dinner we think about the dessert and while eating our dessert, we think about what to do when it is finished.
In silence, there is no after. In silence there is no before. There is only now.

The first days I feel restless. But eventually it gives up and I become bored.
I am bored because I am so used to doing things all the time. But I realize that boredom is not about not having something to do, but rather to constantly be looking for something to do. And when I close my eyes and stop, let go of all the thoughts of doing something, all thoughts about what has been or what will be, boredom disappears.

I no longer remember what happened last week and no thoughts about getting back show up either. Being here feels like an eternity, like every second lasts for hours so I can savour it, enjoy it fully. When I get back home, I feel like a new person.
It has only cost me some of my time, but the pieces swirled up in the last few months has finally found rest and everything feels clear. I notice the difference and I am filled with wonder that all of this came on it’s own.
Now I will go back to activities, experiences and doing and I find myself enjoying them more than before.

 

 

New website: http://mathiascederholm.com

 

About six months ago I registered my first company as a photographer. I have gained a lot of experience during this time, but now I want to take the next step and build up a proper portfolio. To do this, I need your help.
I am looking for couples in need of a photographer for their wedding that are willing to let me capture their full day, from morning to late night for the cost of gas and food).

If you know anyone willing to do this, ask them to contact me.

You will find my current portfolio on my new website http://mathiascederholm.com or via my new facebook page located here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mathias-Cederholm-Photography/

I accept other types of photography work too, so check my website for that stuff too!

Zenit-E roll 3+4+5

 

The last few months, I’ve shot three rolls of film with my old russian Zenit-E. I love it, but it is a bit unpredictable. Several frames turned out to be empty, for some unknown reason.
Hopefully that is something I can learn to get rid of as I learn to handle the camera better. Bad photos on the other hand, I can’t do anything about. You just have to accept that with film, where you can’t see the result straight away, some photos will be really bad.
Half of the frames are really bad or broken and half of the rest is hardly ok. All in all, the roll of black and white turned out better than the rest. I can’t tell if that is because it is a different type of film or mere luck. We’ll see by time.

Some of the pictures taken by Claire Roycroft

 

Roll 3

 

Roll 4

 

Roll 5

Get that whip out!

 

Next postcard is from my friend Paula that I wrote about here. She is now supposedly in London, but it’s hard to tell. You never know how long she stays in one place before moving on.

The text on the card says:

 

What a beautiful contradiction!
The innocence in her look – such a naive beauty – and the whip in her hand…

A metaphor for life?

I let you think about that!

Nomadic hugs,
from Paula in the Netherlands (not for long…)

 

Summer of 2011

 

It’s a bit late to post summer pictures in early October when the autumn chill gets to you and the northern parts of Sweden are already getting snowed in. But it is long overdue and at least, the snow has not reached this area yet, and hopefully won’t for another month at least.

Besides, it’s nice to look at pictures that seem to be taken ages ago, remember the California heat and remind yourself that although winter is approaching, it’s not going to last forever. Sooner or later, days will be bright and sunny and warm again. Even here.

This summer was the fifth time I visited California.
I have never before had an interest in visiting the U.S. at all, even though it is a very popular place to go, but it so happened that I got to know a bunch of Americans, most of them on the west coast, and when you know someone in a place, going there just makes a whole lot more sense.
I’m not much for sightseeing and except for an occasional overdose of temples or churches or old buildings at different times in my travel history, I tend to avoid typical tourist destinations. Not because they are not worth seeing, but because I find taking a random stroll around cities or other places a lot more enjoyable. I want to do what the typical resident of a place do, get a taste of the atmosphere and meet and observe locals. I have found that every city or village, every country or culture has it’s own specific flavour, and you get a taste of it simply by sitting on the curb next to the street, or having a cup of tea in a café or simply by walking the streets up and down until you get tired.

So despite having been to California five times, I still haven’t seen the Golden Gate, and out of these times, I actually only been in San Francisco once. But every year, I get to see a new part of the place. And I keep coming back, to hang out at my friends place in the middle of nowhere, to rest and chillout over a glass of wine.
When other people go sightseeing, I enjoy going places and drink abnormal amounts of tea or chat for hours about everything and nothing and do nothing.

Below are some of the pictures I took during those weeks, months back, that today feels like a long long time ago.

 

We think we need self-control

 

We think we need self-control.
Keep our desires in check. Count calories and abstain from things that are not good for us.

We have to force ourselves not to fall for temptation and we believe that people that succeed, that doesn’t gain weight, that excersize regularly, finish all their projects and live a seamless life, somehow, they have character traits we don’t have, they are more disciplined or have stronger will power.

But what if this is plain wrong? What if it is the other way around.

What if it is the fact of trying to control ourselves, forcing ourselves to abstain. Dragging ourselves to the gym even though we hate it or diet just to avoid anxiety and in the same time creating new anxiety. To force ourselves to eat “healthy” food that taste like cardboard, just because it is good for us. What if it is this behaviour that causes us to fail?

What if it is the force and fake discipline that we put ourselves under that makes us fall for temptation every time. What if our body and psyche responds to this slavery by creating a desire for sugar or pleasures that turn into bad habits, make us crave the wrong food or to avoid food altogether?
Maybe it is this force that kills our lust and joy for life and to cope with that, we crave all these things?

But, we dare not take a chance. We are so scared that if we let go there will be no end to our indulgence.
Because we have learnt from birth, that if we want results, we have to put in a lot of effort. And we use this strategy in everything we do.

What if our lives will automatically regulate itself if we just stop putting our nose where it doesn’t belong?

That must be too good to be true.

 

Postcard from London

 

Next postcard comes from my friend James in London
Me and James have known eachother through the internet since about 1997, but we met the first time in Germany in 2004.

We all have something we care for, for me it is cameras and computers, for James it is motorbikes and cars. Especially Jaguars.
Things that appear to be very different. In function as well as in size. But if you look beyond these details, there is actually very little difference. A camera or a motorbike actually have something fundamentally the same.

It is easy to forget these days, when everyone we know is running around with dslr’s, smart phones and own cars, how many centuries of technological innovation lies behind every single thing we own. How many millions of hours that is needed to build the things we use.
How many people throughout history have worked all their lives, studied, tested, failed and started all over to produce these things. What a piece of art they really are.

Yesterday, a new iPhone was announced. The iPhone 4S. And several newspapers exclaim their disappointment that they didn’t get an iPhone 5 instead. A disappointment that it hadn’t evolved more from last years release.

But we really do forget.

We forget all the work that is behind the development of a phone like this, millions of years of human evolution. Thousands of years of technological evolution.
How much effort contained in that small little thing that fits in your pocket and that does everything except frying your eggs for breakfast.
That small thing that in a few years only, has changed the way we behave. How we live our lives.
Changed the world we live in and how we look at it.

The car changed our place in the world. The camera has changed the way we look on ourselves. The smart phone has changed our social world.

Ins’t it strange then, to be disappointed?

In the end, it’s not about how many more megapixels our camera has, a better battery or how big the screen is. It is about what we can do with this tool. How it changes things for us.

This photo from James, and what it represents for him, really captures this:

 

I dont have many black and white photos – but this one I always liked – it provokes a strong feeling in me - about freedom and the unknown.
I still like to drive the car alone at night.  Going nowhere.  Just drive.  :-)  It reminds me of that.

When I first passed my test – this is in 1977 – I took my Mums car out any night she would let me and would drive around the streets long into the night – I loved to just drive around the West end – going nowhere - with an old radio on the passenger seat (the car had no radio of its own) – playing whatever music – just driving around and around.