No Touching Ground has produced some amazing and provocative work throughout Seattle. Check out his website! He is greatly influenced by his experiences in Alaska. Much of his work in Seattle plays with the juxtaposition of natural with urban landscapes. He was kind enough to conduct this interview with me via email:
(NF) What relationship (if any) do you see you work having to the ubiquitous
graffiti/tagging found throughout the city of Seattle? What differences?
(NTG) My work is lumped in with graffiti, because in the eyes of the law-
it’s all the same. I don’t consider myself a graffiti artist.
Graffiti is pure destruction. I’m not interested in that. I’m
interested in creating an ephemeral narrative- my work isn’t about
destruction. At this point in my life I’m looking to make the least
amount of impact on this world as possible. I’m not attempting to
carve a portrait into a mountain.
(NF) Have you been influenced by the concepts and grammar of graffiti, or do
you see graffiti as totally separate type of expression that just happens
to take place where it is visible to the public? If yes, What similar
purpose does it serve for human expression?
(NTG) My work and the work of graffiti artists are similar only in the fact
that they are unwanted forms of human expression according to the law.
Granted the work exists in the public realm, however, my work focuses
on site specific, disused spaces, and abandoned structures. Graffiti
artists aren’t nearly as specific; abundance is the name of the game.
(NF) Do you believe that what you and other graffiti artists do should be
considered illegal? How does the legality of street art contribute to its
(NTG) Whether it is legal or not doesn’t really concern me. I think that
cities should create public space for people to express themselves; it
would at least create an example of democracy in a public space. It
would offset some of the advertisements were subjected to on a daily
basis. I, however, don’t see my work going into those places. Much
like skateboard parks, I’m not interested in participating in these
institutional structures. I feel like these resemble the reservation
model, set up by the government to contain what they deem as a
problem. However, I feel like this is my own rhetoric and my
justifications don’t necessarily pertain to the general public.
I do think that the illegality of creating work in the street carries
some weight. When things are permissible then the urgency is lost -
the risk no longer exists. I think graffiti and most works put up in
the street need that edge. Or that edge itself provokes the most raw
or pure human expression.