18. Noah Woo
My practice investigates the identity of contemporary western masculinity through photography
and sculpture. In a recent project, I analyze common tools specifically acquired by my native
Hawaiian father. He was a woodworker, landscaper; a blue-collar man who struggled financially
and emotionally for the majority of his life. Though, the effects of his societal alienation wouldn't
become apparent to me given my lack of access to him until his passing in 2018.
The items he left behind became the only window in understanding who he was while
also making sense of ideas of loss, displacement, and identity. The tools and clothes became a
way for me to explore the complexities of contemporary American culture where I’m able to
parse certain aspects of my identity and not others due to colonial erasure.
Tools are a defining item, they are made for a specific job, for a specific worker and their
only goal is to function. As the tool becomes an extension of our bodies the wear of a wrench
can speak more towards the portrait of the person then the tool itself. My father's tools defined
him, they were specific to his needs. As representations, they define the myth I knew behind th e man my father might have been; they act as an extension into his life but also fail in granting me access to the person he was or I might be.
As a native Hawaiian, the disconnect from my father and his objects reiterates the
erasure of my cultural identity. In my work, I pair images, text, and tools on a pegboard that is
similar to the one my father used in his woodshop. These installations also accompanied his
work clothes which I digitally captured through scanning, photographing, and then reproducing
as a print to scale. Through the investigation and isolation of these objects and magnification of
more than 200%, the function of the tools is distorted. By removing the tools from the realm of
reality I am able to focus on the ontology of the object and how it activates in a flattened space.
1 - Sunday’s Best, 2019, Spiral bound Inkjet printed book on clear acetate, 8.5”x11”
2 - 888 Hali’imaile Rd, 2019 Adhesive backed Inkjet prints mounted on Pegboard 4” x 8”
3 - A. Size 11 EE B. Ear Pull/ Pull Holes C. Feather Stitch D. Scallop E. 15, Shaft F. Cuban Heel G. Round Toe H. Medallion Toe Stitch, 2019, Inkjet Print, 30” x 40”
4 - Untitled Object, 2020 Adhesive backed Inkjet Print 44” x 12“
5 - Untitled Object, 2020 Adhesive backed Inkjet Print 44” x 15”
6 - Untitled Object, 2020, TIFF
7 - Untitled Object, 2020, TIFF