Inspired by the methodology of Surrealism and the madness of Dada, the Bureau of Manufactured History works to uncover the unconscious content of the city. As our lives and neighborhoods become increasingly hyper-planned data-driven sites for commerce, the need for unpredictability, mystery, and romance becomes more urgent. “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” wrote Albert Camus, and the fictions of our cities deserve more attention. With this principle in mind, the Bureau collects rumors, dreams, historical moments, personal reports, and coincidences that can be reconfigured into a chaotic wide-angle portrait of today’s city. Cities are subjective and wildly emotional creatures, and the Bureau shall bear witness to the dreams of the people who make them tick.
The Bureau of Manufactured History is a collaboration between artist Oliver Blank and writer James A. Reeves that explores the personalities of cities. Reeves spent the month of March in Indianapolis writing stories based on urban legends, historical rumors, and general chatter recorded on the Bureau’s telephone line. In April, Blank transformed elements of these stories into a 45-minute composition and a performance-based installation using a desk, audio speaker, the soul of Indianapolis, and a chair.
The Former Desk of the First Office of the Bureau of Manufactured History was unveiled at a ceremony on the third of May and will appear in unexpected locations throughout the city. A book called The Manufactured History of Indianapolis will be published in July 2013. The Bureau will open its doors in New Orleans next month.