Each of these panels are articulations of the seven verdicts that the lie detector gives. The work shows the micro-second where the machine makes the verdict, and then I hand drew the pitch of the voice at that moment to try to expand on this tiny moment where this machine produces something that can have a great effect on somebody’s life. In reproducing them by hand, you reinsert the human behind the machines database decisions. Here the voice-prints verdicts are realised as paintings, painted with an acoustically absorbent / sound deadening paint called “coat of silence”. This paint then seeks to intensify the listening experience. With the accompanying sound of chanting voices extracted from the lie detector these painted voiceprints are simultaneously paintings and acoustic interventions into the space in which they are exhibited. These paintings are newest articulation of Abu Hamdan’s body of work that explores the material, technological and political qualities of sound.
At the core of this audiovisual installation is a documentary, which experiments with the conventions of radio, consists of a collection of interviews with software developers, anthropologists and entrepreneurs of the biometric industry, from the Netherlands, USA and elsewhere. To the listeners, it offers a fresh look into how truth is constituted, to whom truth matters and who can use it; it complicates the current conventions of testimony and its relationship to trauma, free speech, technology and the body.
For his solo show at Athr, Lawrence Abu Hamdan will be presenting two different works, the theme of each triggered by the current application of voice analysis as a lie detection method recently piloted by European, Russian and Israeli governments as well as being employed in border agencies and insurance companies all over the world. This technology uses the voice as a kind of stethoscope, an instrument to measure internal bodily responses to stress and tension; a material channel that allows the law’s listening to bypass speech and delve deeper into the body of its subjects.