Leave a message for "The One That Got Away" | Oliver Blank | The Art Assignment | Summary and Q&A

October 30, 2014
The Art Assignment
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Leave a message for "The One That Got Away" | Oliver Blank | The Art Assignment


Collaborate with artist Oliver Blank to contribute to a sound composition by leaving a message about what you would say to the one who got away.

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Key Insights

  • 🥰 The Bureau of Manufactured History is an example of participatory art, where community members become part of the art-making process.
  • 🙏 Other contemporary artists, such as Yoko Ono, Rivane Neuenschwander, and Candy Chang, have also engaged in participatory art projects to explore personal and collective wishes, hopes, and regrets.
  • 🥰 The project challenges traditional notions of authorship in art and allows for a collective creation and storytelling.
  • 😑 By collecting anonymous recordings, the project ensures privacy and encourages people to express themselves candidly.
  • 🌥️ The focus on Indianapolis as a subject matter highlights the importance of local history and personal experiences within a larger community.
  • 🙈 The project seeks to create a unique and alternative history of the city, departing from the traditional narratives often seen in official histories.
  • 💨 The question of what one would say to the one who got away invites introspection and reflection on personal relationships and missed opportunities.


[MUSIC PLAYING] Today we're in Columbus, Indiana outside of a 1954 building designed by the great Eero Saarinen that used to house a bank but now, it's a conference center owned by the company Cummins. It's here in the former vault that we're going to be meeting with composer Oliver Blank who's in town for an exhibition. Oliver was born in England ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the purpose of The Bureau of Manufactured History?

The bureau aims to create a "manufactured history" of Indianapolis by inviting community members to contribute their stories and experiences through anonymous phone call recordings.

Q: How does the project involve community participation?

Community members are given cards with instructions to call a specific number and answer a question related to Indianapolis. Their recorded answers are then collected and incorporated into the sound composition.

Q: How does this project differ from previous art assignments?

Unlike previous assignments where individuals work on their own, this project emphasizes collaboration and participation from a larger community, giving artist Oliver Blank material to work with.

Q: What is the significance of reflecting on the "one who got away"?

Exploring what individuals would say to someone they miss or regret losing allows for personal reflection and introspection. It delves into the themes of missed opportunities, mistakes, and longing.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Oliver Blank and writer James A. Reeves formed The Bureau of Manufactured History as part of a residency in Indianapolis.

  • The project involves collecting anonymous phone call recordings of city residents answering questions related to Indianapolis.

  • The goal is to create a sound composition that reflects on the past and the future of the city.

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