Olle Essvik

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






The Attic
Book (edt. 110)

Memories from an attic cleaning - created from materials and equipment found in the attic.

“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.”

Winner of Swedish Photobook Award (Lilla fotobokspriset, for small edition) 2024
Also shown as a exhibition: Alma Löv, Skövde Konstmuseum

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The Eaten Books + AInsects

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.

Exibitionds: Kristiansand Kunsthall, Skövde Art Museum, Gothenburg City Library
Performance lecture: Research Symposium: Glitch and Photography II: ()Hasselblad Foundation and Aarhus Photbook festival
Software + Books .

An article for Philosophy of photography describing the project:




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Book (edt. tap water)

43200 seconds, tap water and cut out pages from a book about the journey to the moon.

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Shadow Play for computers / The Computer As Seen at the End of the Human Age 2022
Winner of The Swedish book award 2022
Compture Software + Book

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


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Utgallringen / The Deselection, 2021
Exhibition/Performance Skövde Art Museum

A performance, taking place from the 18
th 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.

Tangenterna (The Keys)
Rönells Antikvariat (release Tydningen), Skövde Konstmuseum, Göteborgs Stadsmuseum

Book + Software

The ABC of the typewriter. A book on typing, finger positions, and learning how to type words: The meaning of the keys. The territory and composition of the little finger. The downward movement of the index finger, a “V”, and another centimeter to the right, a “G”. Exercises containing sentences and words emptied of their practical meaning, but still carefully selected for a specific purpose. Images of the secretary, illustrating how it is done, and personifying the activity. Words and sentences as a daydream or a dance, with hands moving in given patterns.

He disassembles the book, separating images and text. A computer program types texts without using keys, 3 pages per second. The program creates fragments of text, maybe poems, maybe images becoming new books. For the cover page he uses the keys from an old computer, dislodging them with his fingers and gluing them onto the cardboard covers, one key for each book, as separate titles for books with unique contents.


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Flip books from the hidden corners of the Internet
The Museum of Alma Löv, Parse Conference artistic research, Skövde Konstmuseum
Artist book + exhibition/installation

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.

The Chance Execution 2017,
Transmediale, Berlin
A book on marbeling, chance, algorithms and end pages. Each book unique with different contents. The book was part as a chapter in this the book Exercution Practices (Open Humanities press))


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Georges Perec The Machine by Olle Essvik,
Gibca Extendend (Gothenburg Bienalle, RepRecDigit Conference(Linköping))
Compture Software + Book

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.

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Skövde Konstmuseum

Software 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.


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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...



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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.

Download code to make a calender.

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The Enemies of Books
Århus Konsthall, , Ringön Konsthall, Fotoboksdagen, Hilton Stockholm, Chapter in OEI etc.
perfromance workshop+ book

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.



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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.

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Soup of the day, 2015
Multipel/artist book 135 * 180 mm [1 p] [50 copies]

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The Last Supper
2013, Bilaga Edition
Multiple + movie

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.

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