This fact bring us to our topic today. We are going to see a super human who was born with a disability of colour of sight but was turned into a cyborg so he can be able to hear colours as a wave motion.
Neil Harbisson was born on 27 July 1984 and he is a Catalan-raised, British-born avant-garde artist and cyborg activist based in New York City. He is best known for being the first person in the world with an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognized as a cyborg by a government. His antenna uses audible vibrations in his skull to report information to him. This includes measurements of electromagnetic radiation, phone calls, music, as well as video or images which are translated into sound. His wifi enabled antenna also allows him to receive signals and data from satellites.
Since 2004, international media has described him as the world’s first cyborg or the world’s first cyborg artist, for expressing himself artistically through a new sense created by the permanent union between electronic components and his brain. In 2010, he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation, an international organisation that defends cyborg rights, promotes cyborgism as an art movement and supports people who want to become cyborgs.
Early life and career of Neil Harbisson
Harbisson is the son of a Catalan mother and a Northern Irish father. He was born with an extreme form of colour blindness that results in his seeing in grayscale. He grew up in Mataró in Catalonia, Spain, where he studied music and art at various schools. He began to compose piano pieces at the age of 11 and, at 16, began studying fine art at the Institut Alexandre Satorras, where he was given special permission to use no colour in his work. His early works are all in black and white and these were the only colours he used to wear.
At the age of 18, Harbisson climbed a tree in Mataró to save three trees from being felled. He lived in the tree for several days, supported by over 3,000 people who signed a petition to maintain the trees. After days of protest, the city hall announced the trees would not be cut. At the age of 19, he moved to England to study music composition at Dartington College of Arts.
Why The Cyborg Antenna
In 2003 Harbisson started a project at Dartington College of Arts with Adam Montandon to develop a sensor that transposed colour frequencies into sound frequencies. Neil memorised the sound of each colour and decided to permanently attach the sensor to his head. Peter Kese, upgraded the sensor to 360 microtones and added volume levels depending on colour saturation levels and Matias Lizana, developed the sensor’s software into a smaller chip. The antenna implant was rejected by bioethical committees which is why the surgery went underway by anonymous doctors. Harbisson’s antenna, which has been permanently attached to his head since 2004, is osseointegrated inside his skull and sprouts from within his occipital bone. It allows him to hear the light frequencies of the spectrum including invisible colours such as infrared and ultraviolet. The antenna consists of two antenna implants, one vibration/sound implant, and a Bluetooth implant that allows him to connect to the internet and therefore receive colours from satellites and other people’s cameras, as well as receive phone calls directly into his skull.
Why He Was Denied passport On 2004
In 2004, Harbisson was not allowed to renew his UK passport because his passport photo was rejected. The UK Passport Office would not allow Harbisson to appear with electronic equipment on his head. Harbisson wrote back insisting that the antenna should be considered part of his body as he had become a cyborg. Letters from his doctor, friends and his college were sent to the passport office to give him support. After weeks of correspondence Harbisson’s antenna was included. Harbisson states that he became a cyborg when the union between his organism and his antenna created a new sense.
Neil Harbisson Cyborg Abilities
Neil Harbisson can have phone calls to my head,” says Neil Harbisson, sitting across the table from me. Dangling over his forehead is an antenna that curves up and over from the back of his skull. The device, which he calls an “eyeborg”, was recently upgraded, meaning his skull is now Bluetooth-enabled. “I can either connect to devices that are near me,” he says, “or I can connect to the internet. So I can actually connect to anywhere in the world.”
Next to Harbisson in this London cafe is his long-term artistic collaborator, Catalan choreographer Moon Ribas, who has a sensor implanted in her left arm that vibrates whenever an earthquake occurs. “I feel very connected to the Earth,” says Ribas, who incorporates these vibrations into her performances.
Her implant is scarcely noticeable, but Harbisson’s antenna, hovering above his Henry V-meets-the-Monkees hairdo, is quite the lifestyle statement. I tell him he looks like a cross between an insect and a call-centre worker. “I know what you mean about insects,” he laughs. “I do feel more connected to other animals.”
He believes we humans have a duty to use technology to transcend our senses. “Becoming a cyborg isn’t just a life decision,” he explains. “It’s an artistic statement – I’m treating my own body and brain as a sculpture.”
World Wide Collaborations
Harbisson is in the cast of Adam Green’s Aladdin, an independent film directed by Adam Green and starred by Macaulay Culkin, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat and Francesco Clemente among others.
Harbisson has collaborated extensively with Spanish choreographer Moon Ribas in a series of devised theatre and dance performances such as Opus No.1, premiered at London’s BAC Theatre, The Sound of the Orange Tree, premiered at Barcelona’s Antic Teatre and Walking Colours.
Harbisson’s first colour-to-voice performances were in collaboration with Icelandic musician María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir. In their performances, María used a computer to hear and sing the colour frequencies that Harbisson used while creating live paintings on stage.
Harbisson has collaborated and performed with Spanish musician Pau Riba with whom he shares the same interest in cyborgs. They first performed at Sala Luz de Gas (Barcelona), followed by other performances. One of their projects is Avigram, a structure of 12 strings, one string for each semitone in an octave, installed on a roof of a farm. The installation is recorded 24 hours a day and a melody is being created depending on which strings birds decide to rest on.