Tuesday, 4 January 2011

LSD Magazine Interviews US Street Artist RSH (Issue 6)

Polymath of the creative arts, lucid surfer of the mists of mysticism, all round politically illuminated mischief maker and creator of a bizarrely psychedelic, sinuous menagerie of monstrous glee, Raymond Salvatore Harmon dances through the barricades of medium with an irrepressible energy. Laced with a sublimial whisper, his film, music and abstraction alike glow with the rich hue of the esoteric, the internal, the eternal and the subconscious while his visual activism cuts straight through the layers of buried meaning to deliver a straight up punch to the solar. A lecturer and a formidable knowledge bank, a painter and a stencil artist, he also delves deep into the geometry and texture of electronic music, the nature of light and its channels and the fiery symbolism of conceptual film. unifying the often lonesome strands of sensory expression into a barrage of seductively arresting output. We spoke to him...

How did growing up in industrial Detroit shape your perceptions of society? 

Although I did spend a ton of time in downtown Detroit proper in my teens I actually grew up in a town about 45 minutes outside of Detroit. It was a desolate postindustrial scar on an otherwise green farmland. It plays host to what was once the world's largest walled prison and claims to be the place where the Republican Party was founded. In my teens we would break into the former Goodyear Tire plant complex (1.2 square kilometer factory) and skateboard on the steel floors. The plant closed in the early 80s due to a huge explosion that ruined one of the buildings. When it closed 30,000 people lost their jobs and the town was gutted financially. Still, the town has one of the best comic book stores in Michigan. Michigan in general is weird. I hated it as a kid and when I would go back in my early 20's I felt like I was suffocating, even if I was just visiting. But something about that place breeds intensely interesting, massively creative people. Motown, the Stooges, Juan Atkins, MC5, Wolf Eyes, Andrew WK. I came up seeing amazing shows in Detroit and was around during the birth of the noise scene there in the early 90's. I remember being at a rave in about 1991 with Graham Massey of 808 State and a friend of mine who was performing. This back when raves had bands like the Shamen or Meat Beat Manifesto, before the rise of DJ's. Orion pictures was there to film some movie about dance music that never came out. In hindsight I was in an amazing place and time seeing incredible things and doing ridiculous stuff. But it never seemed enough when I was young. Everyone I knew wanted to escape, to go out and see the world and get away from what we thought of as a boring existence.

What were your first forays into expressed creativity? 

I come from a family that promotes creativity. I have aunts and uncles who are artists in one way or another. So I started drawing young (like all kids) and just never stopped. I first started doing graff work in my teens, mostly as tags on buses and terminals in the 80s and early 90s. Then when I moved to NYC in 95 I started working with a crew of kids from the School for Visual Arts. I was the odd man out as I was older and didn't go to art school. All we did was paint the pieces designed by one guy, which got boring fast, so I moved on. It wasn't until 2003 or so that I started painting the sea / space monster things I do now. They grew out of drawings I had been doing for years. Kind of automatic drawing style psyche stuff.

When did you first begin to take an interest in the esoteric? 

When I was young, like 11 or so, I was fascinated with mythology and fantasy stories. I started reading up on the witch trials and slowly gravitated to more mystical work. By 13 I had figured out how to get books from other libraries sent to mine and was reading books on 14th century demonology and kabbalah. Crowley came along by my mid-teens, as did yoga, meditation and other mind expansion techniques; although I was totally straight edge (though not vegetarian) all through high school.

In the final analysis, what is your take on Crowley? 

Crowley is funny, especially in the UK where he still gets press. On the one hand he was an amazingly intelligent guy who spoke a half dozen languages and wrote an enormous amount of brilliantly insightful material into mystical traditions, esoteric thinking, and the nature of religion. On the other hand he was a man raised with money, used to being given what he wanted and overly indulgent of his desires/passions. The thing I find funny is how they still call Crowley a "Satanist!" in the UK press. It's been 100 years and as many books have been written about him and yet no research gets done or basic fact checking when an article about him comes out in the mainstream media. Yet when he does get mentioned its always "DRUG USER! "SATANIST!" etc. In today's world someone like George Michael it doing more in the way of "bad things" than Crowley ever did. How controversial is a guy who is bisexual, practices yoga and does drugs today?




Ananda nahu, The Correspondents, Solo One, Soulflux, The Orb + Youth, Jerm IX, 69 DB, Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Rennie Pilgrem, The Yes Men, Resto, Chaz, Neurodriver, Lokey, Elate, Dhear One, Page 51, Umek, Karma, Andrew Tiernan, K-Guy, Richard A Webster, William Parry, Andy C, Jesus Greus, Push Pony, James Lightning Wilks, Dominic Spreadlove, AK - 47, Mr Sofalumpkins, Mat Banbury, MikkiM, David Corden, Ian Milne, Punch Music, Hudson Zuma, Wayne Anthony, Sirius23

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