The Color Blind Artist Who Hears Color

by Jennifer Mendoza

Neil Harbisson, born on the 27th of July, 1982, is a contemporary artist and cyborg activist known for being the first person in the world with an antenna implanted in his skull.

This antenna uses audible vibrations to report information to him, such as measurements of electromagnetic radiation, phone calls, music, and videos or images.

Harbisson has had this antenna implanted in his skull since 2004 and has described himself as “the world’s first cyborg” and “the world’s first cyborg artist”. He’s the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation alongside Moon Ribas, his long-time partner.

Neil’s antenna’s actual name is the “Eyeborg.” The body-modification apparatus typically fits around someone’s head and allows one to perceive color through sound waves. The head-mounted antenna senses the color directly in front of a person and converts them in real-time into sound waves through bone conduction.

But with this antenna comes struggles. He’s not allowed into theaters because they think he’s illegally documenting the film. Neil also has social problems; he doesn’t make many friends because people are constantly pointing and laughing at his antenna. One of the reason he started the Cyborg Foundation was so that people like him, half human half machine, could have the opportunity to be social and get along with others.

Harbisson has contributed a lot to the awareness of color and cyborgs. He gives lectures at universities, conferences, even LAN parties, sometimes even in crowds of thousands of people.  He’s also taken part in many festivals such as the British Science Festival, TEDGlobal, London Fashion Week, and NeoTokyo Festival.

Neil Harbisson is currently in the process of translating the colors of Dubai into music.


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