Born in the middle of nowhere Raymond Salvatore Harmon has wandered the earth, building things out of nothing, constructing realities from vague indifference and cultivating a prolonged distaste for both academia and any kind of manual labor.
RSH: “At all levels, ultimately graffiti is an act of cultural insurgency. It is a rebellion; against the norm, against society at large, against corporations, against the city or “government.” Graffiti is the act of changing the visual environment in the public space. It doesn’t matter if its a quickly scrawled tag or a well developed painting, it shouldn’t be there and it is.”
James Curcio: To begin with, I’d like to hear what you think the function of graffiti art is. Maybe it has a purpose, maybe it doesn’t, but even if you don’t intend a purpose, a social action like that has a reaction, it serves a function. They don’t necessarily all need to have the same function but I imagine when you really cut down to it there is a fairly small range of possibilities there. What do you think?
Raymond Salvatore Harmon: Modern urban visual environments are controlled by corporations and city governments (which are in fact almost always corporations themselves). They decide where a road goes, how big signs can be, when a billboard can go up, etc. This is all dictated by financial gain. Advertising revenue plays a huge part in city planning.
When someone alters this visual landscape without permission they are fucking with the economic value of that environment. In doing so they are counteracting the attempt that the city government makes to control that environment. While the content and message can vary greatly within graffiti, the act is very clear. Graffiti is doing this act in violation of the law.
Increasingly we are seeing the growth of something that appears to be “graffiti”, in that it has co-opted graffiti’s common visual aesthetics and techniques, but it is done with permission. “Street art” is graffiti without the teeth. When it’s being done with permission it’s just the same as the advertising billboards. It’s part of the plan, and in being so it’s devoid of the same level of depth found in an act of true vandalism.