BRIAN D. BLACK
The “Highest High-Five” is an embodiment of my interest in isolating quantifiable aspects of athleticism and assigning a context for them outside their expected parameters. I am principally interested in numeric values that can potentially determine athletic performance outcomes. As I study statistics on athletes, I am fascinated by the dualism that is inherent in this type of data collection: it sets the groundwork for both objectification and idealization of the athlete. An athlete has internal motivation and exceptional drive, but is rated and judged on a series of specific numeric tasks. And in the “Highest High-Five” it is my intention for the audience watching and those participating to experience a small aspect of this duality.
As a cultural phenomenon, the high-five has a historical connection to basketball. This connection directed the physical parameters I assigned the performance. For each person that wants to attempt the high-five, I walk up the ladder and stand on the platform. Once in position, I extend my arm and measure the distance from the bottom of my hand to the ground at ten feet. The ten-foot distance from the ground to the bottom of my hand is equal to the regulation height of a basketball rim. In theory if a participant can jump high enough to reach a basketball rim, they should be able to complete the high-five. Each participant is given three opportunities to connect with my hand and complete a high-five. If a participant is successful, I award them a signed Certificate of Athletic Achievement.
Given the height of the jump, the performance favors individuals six feet tall or taller. This built-in physical prejudice naturally deters some people from even attempting the jump while for others it is public affirmation of their physical stature and/or athletic ability. I am interested in providing a situation that elicits both these responses.