Filtered for clocks

16.09, Friday 31 Mar 2023


At Schiphol Airport there is a clock that has a man standing in it.

He’s cleaning the clock face from inside. It’s a bit fuzzy but you can see him. Each minute, he erases the minute hand and redraws it at its new position.

Photos here.

The clock is part of a series by artist Martin Baas called Real Time. It’s a 12-hour life-size video performance. So compelling to watch!

There’s another installation by London Paddington (just by the new Elizabeth Line entrance). Worth a visit.


I’m into Time Sense, an exosense, an external sensory organ which is intended to be worn 24 hours/day:

Time Sense is a wearable sensory headband which allows the wearer to feel the passing of the 24-hour clock around the circumference of the head. As the day progresses, a tiny heat sensation passes the length of the headband.

It is mentioned on artist Neil Harbisson’s Wikipedia page:

When he feels the point of heat in the middle of his forehead it is midday solar time in London, when the heat reaches his right ear it is midday in New Orleans.

Harbisson also has an antenna implanted in his skull. It has a camera on the end and produces vibrations:

it allows him to feel and hear colours as audible vibrations inside his head, including colours invisible to the human eye such as infrareds and ultraviolets.

A cyborg third eye!

SEE ALSO: Art + Tech (2015) – my list of projects in which tech companies use art to explore the future.


The 50Hz mains hum? (60Hz if you’re in the US.)

It changes, slightly, all the time, as load on the grid changes.

And it’s present, faintly, in the background of all recordings.

The UK national electrical grid delivers power across the country. This mains power supply makes a constant humming sound, yet there are tiny changes to the frequency of this sound every second. Most recordings made in the UK have a trace of mains hum on them and this can be forensically analysed to determine the time and date they were made, and as a result, whether anyone has edited the recording.

It’s a technique called Electrical Network Frequency (ENF) analysis (Wikipedia) and was discovered by Dr Catalan Grigoras in 1996.


[Since 2006] the UK government has used this technique as a surveillance tool.

Here’s the BBC on ENF (2012): The Met Police were the first to automate the system.

At the Hummingbird Clock you can apply to analyse your own recordings.


Pong is probably the first video game I played. It was on an Atari 2600 (four-switch) and I still remember that wood veneer. MORE COMPUTERS SHOULD HAVE WOOD VENEER.

Anyway, PongSaver looks like Pong. But the score tells the time:

PongSaver is a Mac screensaver which plays a game of Pong against itself. It doubles as a clock, by using the score display to show the current time. It does this by changing the intelligence of the two sides so that they score when needed to advance the hours and minutes.

There is something beautifully overpowered about programmatically manipulating the intelligence of an AI in order to achieve a +1 to the relevant side’s score. The software is an uncaring god.

There is something absurdly disproportionate about using cutting edge AI that has taken months to train to simply tell the time – like cracking a nut with the Large Hadron Collider.

Or maybe it’s entirely appropriate, given time-keeping has always been high technology: maybe you remember Synchronome clocks which were centralised by sending ticks on wires around large buildings - we had those clocks at my school - or that Western Union launched a nationwide broadcast time service in the 1870s.


My own rhyming AI Clock has a new web-based sim.

I also recently sent out update #1 on the Substack so subscribe there if you want news. tl;dr I’m investigating two routes to manufacture, and there’s a developer API if you want to integrate up-to-the-minute poems right now.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it by email or on social media. Here’s the link. Thanks, —Matt.