John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Probably not, but that didn't stop one artist in Milan from standing outside the station slapping skin all day.
Are you about to shoehorn yourself into an overcrowded subway for an hour-long ordeal of track delays and strangers' elbows in your gut? You are? High five!!
OK, so most people heading to work in the morning probably aren't in the mood to give skin to a weirdly costumed dude outside the subway entrance. He'll be left grievously hanging, and might even get a poke in the eye-hole. But at quittin' time, the operator of Milan's "High Five! Station" must be slapping palms left and right (and let's not forget down low, too).
The Italian who staged this lighthearted public intervention is one tripped-out dude. His Facebook fans seem to enjoy him for that, with one guy asking about "High Five!": "Antuan Original non avevi smesso con la droga?" ("You hadn't stopped with the drug?") Fra Biancoshock refuses to be called an artist, much less a "street artist." He also "does not exist," according to his website, which lays out the philosophy underpinning his jabbing at urban norms:
My "experiences" are not showcases to promote my activities, they do not require any description: They are simply opportunities to communicate and provoke reactions from common people. I'm talking about all those who, although with little or any artistic education, still want to be surprised and moved by something that was left on the street for all to see.
The purpose of the "High Five! Station" is opaque. But in a past intervention the, er, creative entity known as Biancoshock has shown a heartfelt desire to help commuters overcome the boredom of public transit. Thus his "Antistress For Free" piece at a Milan bus stop, involving sheets of bubble wrap that people idly pop while waiting the bus. Next up: Fist bumps at the ferry terminal?
For the history books, this isn't the first high-five-random-people endeavor undertaken by humankind. This prankster tried it as well last year, although he was kind of mean about it:
Photo by Myst-R via Fra Biancoshock on Facebook.