Olle Essvik

+ See also rojal.se (publishing house run by me and Joel Nordqvist)


Most recent projects:




Shadow Play for computers / The Computer As Seen at the End of the Human Age

The project is part of the book The Computer As Seen at the End of the Human Age. I was editor for the book and it was an experimental book written by computers. read more: www.rojal.se


Shadows of computer parts: resistors, fuses, fans, camera components, therm- istors, led lights, integrated circuits, varicap diodes and broken switches. Ob- jects that when assembled into different combinations form electronic devices and computers. These objects are part of our lives. We carry them around, but rarely notice them or attribute any greater meaning to them. The objects in Shadowplay [for computers] derive from my everyday life, from my old dis- carded computers or other electronic devices. I catalogue the separate compo- nents, like someone trying to document their digital existence, or as a collector of insects.

A projection in the snow, a shadowplay where the electronic objects are arranged to form a face. A game where the algorithm substitutes and recom- bines the objects overlapping each other, creating new forms and shadows. An eternal loop of technology and new faces for each copy of the book. The meth- od of obstructing light to create figures might be the oldest art form in the world. The use of thin sticks to conceal the presence of the puppet master heightens the illusion. In ancient times hearth flames on cave walls, today a flashlight or a projector, and in a distant future – when our societies and technologies have been buried and forgotten – shadow forms of these obsolete digital componen- tes, rediscovered and interpreted as windows to a lost digital world.

The Animation below makes endless images that became pages for the book The Computer As Seen at the End of the Human Age. See pages of the book below or read more at www.rojal.se










The Eaten Books + AInsects

Exhibition Skövde Art Museum, Gothenburg Library,
Performance lecture Research Symposium: Glitch and Photography II: ()Hasselblad Foundation, HDK-Valand and IASPIS

Sound: Sven RŒnlund

The insect is moving over book pages, eating its way through the book, page by page in a slow animation. When the whole book has been eaten the insect moves on to the next. Thus a selection of books, important to our culture and civilisation, is disintegrated as the insects erase the lines through their movements. In the end, all that is left are small fragments of text and the traces of the insect’s movements.

The animation keeps going for half a year, after which the consumed pages are printed and bound into a library of erased books with little else than the titles remaining.







A book from the 18th century with the title Atlas de Insectes containing detailed illustration of insects.

As the book is scanned the illustrations on the opposite side of the page shine through the paper.

The insects are cut up into their component parts (Wings, Body, Head, Rod), that are then fed into an AI, that through a chance process reassembles them into millions of new, made up insect species. Thus a new Atlas is developed, overlaid by the shadows of the original – as if a future AI was trying to understand life on earth.






Utgallringen / The Deselection

Exhibition/Performance Skövde Art Museum
Year 2021-2022


A performance, taking place from the 18th to the 20th of November 2021 , Essvik binding the world's longest book (5,35 m), using disposed and discarded old books. Accepted by Guinness World of records as the thickest book ever made.




Flip books from the hidden corners of the Internet

Artist book + exhibition/installation (The Museum of Alma Löv, Parse Conference artistic research,...)


I'm looking for movies on Youtube with few or no visitors, webcams at eventless times. In most cases, I am the only visitor. Sometimes the filmmaker does not even know that the movie was uploaded, an incorrect button press. Movies that sometimes are there for a short while, disappear. Webcams from tourist resorts off season, construction sites, municipal webcams that monitor traffic or someone trying their new mobile phone.

A flashing traffic light from a webcam somewhere in Colorado, recorded 03.45.15-03.45.35
A birthday party in Sarajevo, 2 visitors 23.16.15-23.16.35
A surveillance camera outside a strip club in Thailand, 1 visitor 13.16.15-13.16.35
A gull flying past a camera in Denmark 0 visitors 13.16.15-13.16.35
A flagpole on a parking lot in Hamburg, 0 visitors 17.15.25-17.15.55

I wrote a program that recorded the movies and transferred them into pictures, and later made into thousands of hand-bound unique flip books.













(Video and Installation)

The images are beautiful in their own right, like abstract art created from ink stains, but their purpose is not esthetical. They belong to the so-called Rorschach test, a cognitive personality test in which the patient's interpretations of the images are used as a basis for a diagnosis. The test has been in use since the beginning of the 20th century, but in recent years its scientific credibility has been challenged.

A couple of years after the find, Essvik is working with AI and starts playing around with the Rorschach images, analysing them through an AI trained on image recognition. During the exhibition period the AI’s interpretations of the images will change, and get increasingly advanced, as more images are fed into the system.






Museum of Dead Media

Exhibition Skövde Art Museum + Gothenburg city library
Year 2021-2022


A collection of electronics and digital images, a cabinet of curiosities for algorithmic and dead art works.






For Objects to Come/ Vindstädningen (Alma Löv Museum, Intra Arts(Malmö) + book published by: http://www.para-archives.net/)

Artist book + exhibition



“The storage space in the attic carries traces and marks of previous tenants – a cross hanging from a beam in the ceiling, paint stains on the floor and a pair of old skis, at some point left behind – the door adorned with numbers and a padlock, protecting against intrusion and baring witness of an owner.”

“There is no more space and a cleaning is necessary to make room for new things. Most of it has been packed in brown boxes and bags, of which I no longer remember the contents. Squeezed in between the boxes and the bags are items still waiting to be organised. Ending up here are the things that were rejected or that belong to another time, hidden away but none the less a part of my story and my life, a collection – a spare saucepan, a tennis racket for future matches, chairs awaiting guests. A remarkable number of the objects have never been used, and will eventually be replaced or thrown away.”






Georges Perec The Machine by Olle Essvik, Gibca Extendend (Gothenburg Bienalle, RepRecDigit (Linköping))
Artist book + exhibition


Georges Perec The Machine by Olle Essvik
I searched the Internet and found the book The Machine, written by Georges Perec, a manuscript from a radio play, a fantasy about the future - computers as creators and interpreters of poetry. With Georges's text and my computer I created the program Georges once dreamed of. Every book is no. x of 400 unique copies created by the program.


See pictures .pdf








The Enemies of Books (performances ongoing)



Below are pictures from different the performances, exhibitions and objects within the project The Enemies of Books 2014-2018 ( Århus Konsthall, Transmediale Berlin, Whinchester England, PARSE Gothenburg, RepRecDigit Linköping, Fotobokens dag Stockholm, Fotobok GBG, Göteborg Konsthall etc.). Within the project has objects for binding books been essential. The project and objects are open-source (free for download) and has been summirzed in this text (published for RepRecDigit & Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap).

Read more about this project and download files,books for free.







Opløsning 1999-2017 , Århus Konsthall (Antipyrine Bookstore)
Artist book + exhibition

– publication Olle Essvik – a bibliography in the book-serie Den store nordiske registrant over kunstnerbøger og andre kunstrelaterede trykte sager, published by Antipyrine & *[asterisk]

The subject of this book is the Swedish artist Olle Essvik, who in his works transfers and connects traditional analogue crafts like bookbinding and woodworking to digital programming and code. The montage include in addition to books; multiples, calendars, CD’s, computer discs, PDF’s for download, codes, home pages, scans, photocopies and 3D-printing. Together, all these items form a dispositive of books and reading, dealing with how the analogue book, as well as its digital versions and deposits, is a way of doing, thinking, learning, and experiencing. The project examines the book as a machine, a mobile entity, a dispositive, that dedicates itself to knowledge, remembrance, historiography and media archaeology, in a situation labelled both post analogue and post digital.
Essvik’s “library” represents a temporally and spatially complex network of machines and expressions, one that reflects basic everyday experiences – of time, recurrences, coincidences, interactions, dependence, sleep, transience – his own, and those of our present times. Transience in particular is a central aspect to the chaos of digital preservation. To be more precise, several of Essvik’s digital codes no longer work. They collapse as the simple result of hard- and software incompatibilities. Remaining are the books, several of which, in Essvik’s case, contain digital code – as documents without a player – a compost for book worms and digital worms alike, where the sediments become difficult to distinguish for the media archaeologists of the future.


See pictures .pdf












The Chance Execution 2017, Transmediale, Berlin
Artist book 110 * 140 mm [150 copies]

A book on marbeling, chance, algorithms and end pages. Each book unique with different contents. Download book (book part as a chapter in this the book Exercution Practices (Open Humanities press))





Rojal + Endless Endtime (book collaboration with Linda Hilfing Ritasdotter ))



Below books I have made in collaboration with other writers and artists as my publishing house Rojal. Read more about the projects at http://www.rojal.se


Below pictures from a collaboration with Linda Hilfing Ritasdotter, Endless Endtime a book we make every year since 2016 and will be continued. This year we had a workshop in Winchester (England). The books and workshop was exhibited in the gallery. Recent year the book has been exhibited/performend in Overgarden Institute (Copenhagen), Århus Konsthall Read more about her project here.





Art&Game Obstruction, Skövde Art Museum



"Act 1. Staging (rule) A long time ago there was no digital. It was something else. Many people from that time are dead. In a near future there will be no one left. The room is darkened and the sun is missing. Empty blue screens lighting up the room. Screens without content. A corridor filled with darkness. A fire camp with ice. A forgotten Internet cafe. Periscope mirroring the sky.The digital beginning. The time we hardly remember. A room without content. The emptiness.


Act 2. The process and the final (obstruction) To be continued...











Soup of the day
Multipel/artist book 135 * 180 mm [1 p] [50 copies]




The Enemies of Books (PARSE, Göteborgs Konsthall, Ringön Konsthall, Århus Konsthall etc.)

perfromance workshop+ book 125 * 190 mm[200 copies] [23 + 96 p ]


I download the book from the Internet, https://books.google.com, Enemies of books, written by William Blades, published in 1881. A book on the decay of books. The enemies of the physical book – fire, water, gas, the bookworm, dirt, bigotry etc. A digitized book with no identity. Black letters on a white background. I buy a copy of the book from 1881. A yellowed, and stained copy. The book bears traces of a former owner, one Dr. Sarolea. Newspaper cuttings on his death and his extensive book collection. I compare the two texts, the original and the digitized copy. Using my computer I create a tool for binding books. I combine and modify traditional tools that have been used for hundreds of years and print out the components on a 3D-printer. The next day I print out another copy of the digitized book, and using the 3D-printed tool I make an exact replica of the book from 1881, in its original design. I construct a manual describing the process and upload the files to the Internet.


This is a description of a project which I begun in 2014 as an artistic development project financed by the University of Gothenburg. A project exploring digitization, human traces and the unique copy, and at the same time an act of resistance against digitization and technology. The outcome of the project was a book, presented together with the tool used to produce it.


Read more about this project and download files,books for free.







For Years to Come (remake 2015)
2015, Göteborgs Konstmuseum, PARSE biennale for artistic research, Gothenburg
Computer program [.pde] + book 310*190 mm [unlimited edition] [ 1200 p]


A calender for 100 years. A workshop where the participants created their own 100 years calenders.

See pictures .pdf

Download code to make a calender.





The Last Supper
2013, Bilaga Edition
Multiple [60+ 20 artist edition]  [130 * 140 mm] [12 p]


A graveyard. A cooking program. A desert. Oil fields. Mourning march. A starry sky without an end. A lion tamer. Food that is transported in outer space. New recipes are written and new cooking instructions are recorded over and over again.







The Museum of Dead Woods 2010, Mustarinda


I was invited to take part in an exhibition in Mustarinda in the midpoint of Finland.
Famous for its old forest.

In the exhibition I created a museum of dead woods. I built the museum at a clear-cut forest from material found in the local dumpster. I announced in the area if someone had a picture of the forest before it was cut down.  I found a photo of the forest from a person who used to work in the area. The photo was place in the museum.











Demonstration of the signs of the horns (In collaboration with Helga Härenstam)
2011, Galleri Lalaland
Multiple [photographs, object] 120*120 mm


A series of photos presented as a book with sculpture (multiple) in a limited edition of 13.








Finland, En svensk upptäcktsresande
2011, galleri Hutoo, Helsinki
Installation + Multipel [170*420*60 mm] [5 copies


One summer’s journey through Finnish landscapes documented through a home built pinhole camera and found objects.










2010, Embassy gallery, You Turn Me On And On And On
Code. [.pde]


”This exhibition features propositions towards infinite art. Rather than completed works, the artists asked to create plans for and descriptions of works that would be, in some sense, infinite. The creation of limitless or endless work is a preoccupation for many artists working with computer technology. The intent of this exhibition is to examine how the idea of an infinite artwork might be interpreted by artists working across a variety of media, both digital and analogue.”









Waiting for
2010, Galleri 54, Sverige
Net Art [.swf]  + Multiple [cd-rom, object] 180*180*40 mm] [24 copies] 


“Waiting for” can be described as a theatrical play with a number of set instructions constantly repeated, but each time in a different order. The piece consists of a programmed and interactive animation sequence shown online, resembling a computer game, but with the actual game element left out. This is a play with no beginning and no end, in which the variables change, making every act different from the last.


The title refers to the Samuel Becket play Waiting For Godot, a play where practically nothing happens and where the hopeless and futile waiting is a key element in the plot.


See pictures .pdf









Net Art [.swf]  + Multiple [cd-rom, object] 150 * 130 * 50 mm] [5 copies] 


The basic plot of the online computer game ”Endgame” is violent and dark, but the soundtrack in the form of 1910s marching music, and the Atmosphere render it so absurd and exaggerated that only comedy remains.









2007/2009, Galleri Maskinen Umeå
Wood and micro-controllers











A message to be found
2007/2009, Galleri Titanik, Helsingfors,
Net Art [.html .php]

Made in collaboration with Mateusz Pozar


Instead of writing an email or sending a text that will arrive instantaneously, send a postcard that won’t arrive until you want it to. Perhaps you want to remind yourself of something in five years time or make a prediction for the world to read in ten years time? Write a postcard, upload an image and select the keywords you want search engines to index. Somewhere on the vast Internet there’s a message waiting for you.







Invisible Paintings.
2009, 300m3, GOTHENBURG
Computer program [.swf, c++, aurdinio], machine, computer prints


An image making machine built from scrap materials, inspired by Öyvind Fahlströms essay ”Invisible Painting”.


Painting is lagging behind the other art forms because of its limited opportunities to reach its audience. By "reach" I mean to "own" a work of art, to possess it, to take it out when you want to, have it on display or not — like a book or a record — so that as many people as possible can experience an original, as they can with film and theater. By this I mean that the fetishism connected to handmade and signed originals would never exist; instead there would be a multitude of equally valuable copies. When art is bought today, it happens, as we know, only partly for the same reasons that books or records are purchased — and it is bought by an extremely limited group of people. Those to whom works of art mean the most have the least means to acquire them. This is an incredibly warped situation, to which many artists are oddly resigned. Nowadays it is possible to make and reproduce exact copies of paintings, in which even the tactile values, to some extent, are retained.









O. Baerthling
Net Art [.pde] + Bok 180 * 240 mm [22 p] [15 copies]


A computer program that creates art works in the style of the Swedish modernist painter Olle Baerthling. The program generats one million images in one hour. 300 of these have been randomly selected and bound into a book.







Untitled Walls
2009, Galleri maskinen, Umeå
Installation + Multiple, 145 * 200 mm [5 copies]


Building blocks and mould for construction of walls.









Dipylon 2.0
2009 PixelPops, Zurich
Net Art [.swf, .php], documented as book 210*200 mm [100 p][2 copies]

The web program downloads words that people have been using when searching the Internet for topics related to war, and stores them in a database. It then randomly picks three words and searches for pictures that become a pattern for a box to print and fold – the type of box that you may find in i.e. supermarkets. The box pattern updates every 30 seconds with new pictures, making every box unique.

The box is a modern digital version of the ancient Greek Dipylon vase, that was traditiona
lly covered with patterns from narratives and important events – typically warriors, chariots, burial scenes and land or sea battles.

The program stopped working in 2007 and remains black.
See pdf with boxes.








Rationalization and conservation of flowers, and the management of nature and romance in an age of technology.
2009, galleri Maskinen
Book 155 * 215 mm [15 copies][ 3 p]


A remake of a found book on drying flowers using a microwave.

Recommended Drying and Standing Times for Flowers Dried in Microwave Use a full-power cooking setting. The times given in the chart are only guidelines. The actual time may vary due to the type of oven and the amount of moisture in the flowers. If your oven does not have a turntable, you may want to rotate the container every 1/2 to 1 minute.  Anemone (Anemone sp.) 2 1/2 to 3 ( Drying Time (in minutes)) , 12 ( Standin time (inhours).

Aster (Aster sp.) 2 1/2 , 10 , Calendula (Calendula officinalis) 2 1/2 , 10,  Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) 1 , 10, Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.) 3, 10 Daffodil (Narcissus sp.) 2 1/2 , 10, Dahlia (Dahlia hybrids) 5 to 7 , 36, Delphinium (Delphinium elatum) 4 to 5, 10, Marigold (Tagetes sp.) 2 1/2 to 3 , 10  Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) 2 1/2 to 3, 36, Peony (Paeonia hybrids) 3 to 4, 36, Poppy (Papaver orientale) 2 1/2 to 3, 24, Rose (Rosa sp.) 1 1/2 to 2, 10  Salvia (Salvia sp.) 3, 24, Tulip (Tulipa sp.) 3, 24








Untitled Spam
2009 Art.tech, San Francisco
Computer program [.pde], book 275 * 275 mm, box, scissors, small change.


A book consisting of 400 drawings, a pair of scissors and a box for money. The visitor to the exihibition were instructed to cut out a page of their choice and pay as much as they saw fit.








Devices, 2007–2008
2007–2008 Pixxelpoint, Slovenien, Get Set!, Virserum Artspace


Electronic and interactive objects, often based on older, found, repaired or recreated electronic devices.





For Years to Come
Galleri Maskinen, Reykjavik Kulturfestival.
Book 270*220 mm, computer program [.pde] [1200 p] [unlimited edition]

A calender for 100 years, for my years to come.





Birthday Singers, a database
Net-Art [.swf, .php]


"It’s my birthday today. I woke up this morning with no one there to sing for me. So I made a program that will play the birthday song every birthday at 08:30, every year. This way I never have to wake up without anyone singing on my birthday.
The web site is just a countdown to my next birthday, at 08:30 on the 21 of December next year it will start singing."

(this was posted at the section drawings/news 2004-12-29 at jimpalt.org).

How to make your own program.
1. Write your name and date of birth below. Enter what time you want the program to start singing.
2. Press submit.

3. Look for your name in the database.


The program stopped working in 2012 and remains black.





Broken Narratives

2006 The Louise T Blouin Institute London, Oksasenkatu 11, Helsinki, Reykjavík Kulturfestival, Reykjavik

Computer-game [.swf], cd-rom with booklet 140*120 mm [17 p] [9 copies]


Computer games as fragmented stories, based on memories of games played in my childhood.



Dreamers of the world unite
Gallery Main Blaue Berlin, 300m3, Gothenburg.
Installation + Website [ .swf, .php ] [documented as .pdf]


Welcome to experience an artwork that takes place inside your dreams… Here is a web-site broadcasting sounds with the intention of influencing the contents of your dreams. The project is based on sleep- and dream research, indicating that external stimuli like sound, smell and touch can be experienced also during sleep. Our dreams are shaped by an inner world, as well as by experiences that we have had during the day and the external stimuli we are exposed to during sleep. While dreaming we get in contact with sub- and pre-conscious layers of our soul. Using sound you can influence your dreams.


Welcome to take part in this artwork that takes place in your bedroom and where the stage is your dream…


The program stopped working in 2010.


See pdf with texts from database








Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Threshold Artspace, Perth, The Louise T Blouin Institute, London, Vaarc in Vancover.
Installation + Net-Art, FlashLite, software for mobile phone and computer [documented as code]


A yellow field moving over a computer screen. The movement, so slow that it is barely perceptible, corresponds to the movement of the sun. The screen, shifting from completely black the moment before sunrise, to completely yellow in the middle of day, and back to black at night, could be perceived as a slowly moving painting, or as a functional device allowing you to follow the sun in real time – a digital Sun.


The program stopped working in 2009 and remains black.

Download code  










2005, Academy Valand, Gothenburg
Net-Art [.swf, .php] Multiple and 3.5 floppy disc (documented 2017) 105*150 mm [25 p] [ 10 copies]


Vasagatan 33, Gothenburg, Sweden, May 07, 2005 23:10:48 - May 22, 2005 20:10:48


In this net based bird opera a rare bird might sing every day for a long period of time, but the chance is small. To hear a blackbird or a chaffinch sing during the night is another rare experience. Some days the jackdaw will sing together with the nightingale, other days with the magpie or on its own in solitude. Some birds sing at night, others are more likely to be heard in day time, and so on. If a bird of prey appears all the other birds could go quiet for hours, days or weeks. The scope for variation is unlimited, resulting in an ever-changing and completely unpredictable opera.

All the sounds are registered and stored in a database, acting as a digital ornithologist.


The program stopped working in 2008 . Download recordings









Migration of storks
2005 Istanbul Biennale
Installation + [typeface, .pdf], artist book 200*300 mm [8 p] [7 copies]


Ancient immigrants

For thousands of years birds have taken advantage of Turkey's and Istanbul's strategic position as a bridge connecting Europe to Asia and Africa. In spring migratory birds fly northwards from Africa to Asia and Europe, and in autumn they leave their breading grounds to fly south to Africa again using Istanbul as a passageway.
  In the most spectacular manifestation of this migration over a quarter million Storks fly in clouds over the city in the course of a few weeks. In autumn the peak passage time coincided with the beginning of the 9th Istanbul Biennale.


The bird’s eye view became the basis for a typeface where the letters were exchanged for the symbolic shapes of famous places, buildings, islands and parks, taken from the city map of Istanbul. The artist book contained patterns and images created with the typeface, which was also availble for online download.


download typeface + posters













Dressed for success
computer game/multiple
cd-rom[ .swf +.pdf], computer print 297*210 mm [2 p] [3 copies]


A ghost collecting bags of points. A computer game based on the contradictory principle that the challanges get easier the longer you play.















Untitled Boxes
[ .pdf], artist book 290*200 mm [10 p] [10 copies]


An image series of unfolded boxes, made available online as pdf-files for anyone to download and print, as well as in the form of a limited edition artist book.


Download posters








Titel 5-10
Net-Art, [.SWF]



A web site containing five short abstract animations.












Titel 1-5
Liljevalchs konsthall
cd-rom, booklet 120*120mm, [6 p][150 copies]


Five short abstract animations on CD-rom. The piece was shown at Liljevalchs Spring Salon in 2001. Since it was one of the first pieces shown on computer in this traditional art space, they had to order one especially for the occasion, which didn’t arrive until a few days before the end of the show.