Neil Harbisson, who is colour blind, has an antenna implanted in his skull that converts colour frequencies to sound, which allows him to “hear” colour. Harbisson is in India to speak at the on-going India Design ID 2018 in New Delhi. He is the world’s first government recognised cyborg.
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Neil Harbisson, 33, is one of these people. The artist was born with achromatopsia, or complete color-blindness. Far from a disability, Harbisson considers his natural world-view to be an asset, though he did want to be able to understand different dimensions to sight. (Read “How Humans Are Shaping Our Own Evolution.”)
Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognised as a cyborg by a government. The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours via audible vibrations in his skull including infrareds and ultraviolets as well as receive colours from space, images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via internet connection.
Harbisson identifies himself both as a cyborg; he feels he is technology, and as a transpecies; he no longer feels 100% human. His artwork explores identity, human perception, the connection between sight and sound and the use of artistic expression via new sensory inputs.
In 2010 he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborg art. In 2017 he co-founded the Transpecies Society, an association that gives voice to people with non-human identities, defends the freedom of self-design and offers the creation of new senses and new organs in community.
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS CYBORG FOUNDATION HAS COLLABORATED WITH VARIOUS INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS BRAILLE WITHOUT BORDERS IN TIBET OR THE BLIND SOCIETY OF PICHICHA IN ECUADOR, BY OFFERING SONOCHROMATIC ANTENNAE SO THAT BLIND PEOPLE COULD EXPERIENCE COLOUR; MESA & CADEIRA IN BRAZIL, WITH WHOM THEY CREATED THE FIRST TRANSDENTAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEM; AND WITH PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN THE NEW SCHOOL, SENSORIUM WORKS AND PIONEER WORKS IN NEW YORK, A PARTNERSHIP THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER CYBORG FUTURES, A RESIDENCY PROGRAM TO SUPPORT THE USE OF CYBERNETICS AS A BODY PART AND TO APPLY NEW SENSORY CAPABILITIES TO ART PRACTICES; AMONGST OTHERS.
CYBORG FOUNDATION’S LATEST PROJECT IS AN ASSOCIATION CALLED TRANSPECIES SOCIETY, BASED IN BARCELONA AND FOUNDED BY ARTISTS NEIL HARBISSON, MOON RIBAS AND MANEL MUÑOZ. THE ASSOCIATION WAS CREATED IN 2017 IN ORDER TO GIVE VOICE TO PEOPLE WITH NON-HUMAN IDENTITIES, DEFEND THE RIGHT TO SELF-DESIGN AND OFFER THE CREATION OF NEW SENSES AND ORGANS IN COMMUNITY.