Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Hummingbird Clock

"Watching the watchers"

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Hummingbird Clock is a new kind of public time piece that exists physically, opposite Liverpool’s law courts in Derby Square, and online. It is designed as a tool for investigations into civil and human rights violations and state corruption: recording the second by second variations in the buzz made by the electrical grid, and making that publicly available to anyone who might need it.

For over 10 years, the UK government has been using this humming sound as a surveillance tool. Nearly all recordings made within earshot of this almost-silent humming can be forensically analysed to determine time and date, and whether the recording has been edited or altered. This technique has, so far, only ever been used by the state, but it can now be accessed by anyone who might need it at

Hummingbird Clock can be visited at Derby Square and online throughout the Biennial. The free festival of contemporary art takes places across the city’s public spaces, unused buildings and galleries from 9 July until 16 October.

Film by Carl Davies, FACT Video Production Services