Lawrence Abu Hamdan - Hummingbird Clock
- Author: Lawrence Abu Hamdan
- Commissioned: Liverpool Biennial 2016
- Back end development: Andre Castro
- Front end design and programming: David Reinfurt
- URL: http://www.hummingbirdclock.info/
The Hummingbird Clock is a new kind of timepiece that uses the second-by-second fluctuations in the frequency of the UK mains power supply to time and date digital recordings. It is designed to provide a tool for investigations into civil and human rights violations, and state corruption committed in the UK anytime after July 7th 2016.
For over 10 years the UK government has been using the humming sound of the electrical mains as a surveillance tool and forensic clock to authenticate recordings – to determine their time and date, and whether they have been edited or otherwise altered. They call this technique, invented by Dr Catalin Grigoras, “electrical frequency network (ENF) analysis”. It can be effectively used as a time stamp for almost any recording made within earshot of electricity, which is always – almost silently – humming. This use of the sound of the electrical grid as a fingerprint of the nation's time has only ever been used by the police as a tool of state level surveillance, and yet everyone has access to this same buzz.
The Hummingbird Clock takes the same technique of ENF state surveillance and reverse its ears, turning it into a tool to listen back to the state. This clock is an attempt to invert the flow of power and reclaim the national buzz, by making this surveillance technology accessible to everybody else. From the 7th July 2016 onwards your mains electricity does not merely hum but also testifies.