Beacon Project

Isdhexgal (Amalgamation)

by Warsame Isse

Isdhexgal is an experimental film that archives a discussion between my father and me about Somali Diasporic culture. The soundscape playing in the background is distorted Morse code of Somali words as well as omitted portions of the conversation between my father and I. the images are of mirrored water droplets. The water droplets are from water that has been exposed to soundwaves of the discussion. This is done as a way to visually represent complex concepts and memories in an abstract manner.

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Isdhexgal (Amalgamation) is an abstract audiovisual archive of a conversation about trying to understand a culture when you are a part of a Diaspora. While it is true a person does practice and live in the culture their family came from. They can still feel like there is a gap of understanding, as if you only grasp a partial or liminal understanding of some concepts and ideas since you are learning it in a different context. Our family members are usually the ones to help bridge those gaps and give much needed context into the culture. My father gives me valuable lessons and stories about Somalia. They help paint a clearer picture of what the traditions and the beliefs are. However, I still feel like there are some parts about Somali culture I cannot fully understand having grown up outside of Somalia. So I create abstract archives to represent this liminal space of understanding and cultural exchange. I use distorted Morse code to depict the nuance of Somali words that can often be lost in translation. I also use distorted Morse code to incorporate omitted sections of the conversation to respect my father’s comfort and right to privacy. For the visual representation of these memories and ideas I use microscopic footage of dried water droplets. The droplets are from water samples that have been exposed to the soundwaves of the conversation. With these methods I am able to depict how surreal, beautiful and transformative this act of cultural exchange can be.