“When Human meets digital” is a life motto for Neil Harbisson.
The Brit, who was born colour-blind, didn’t become a cyborg overnight. Rather, it was a process during which technical devices became a defining part of who he is.
When Neil Harbisson makes an appearance, he puts on a show which will both astound you and open your eyes to the possibilities of the future, while also being highly entertaining:
The Spanish-born, 35-year-old British artist who resides in Brooklyn, New York, doesn’t just appear at conferences; he also delights people at small cultural gatherings with his face concerts, scanning the audience’s skin colours and transforming them into live music.
Neil Harbisson’s sound portraits of prominent figures make for an amusing performance. He has even done sound portraits of the British royal family, and was particularly delighted by the colours of Prince Charles who, he says, has a very balanced face. Other celebrities whose portrait he has created include Moby, Leonardo DiCaprio, Woody Allen, Daniel Radcliffe and Robert De Niro
Yet the serious nature of the subject matter isn’t lost among all the fun. As a cyborg activist, Neil Harbisson broaches such fundamental questions as the ethics of cybernetics . One thing is clear: the world of bio-tech is very much in its infancy.
Harbisson himself has been a cyborg since 2003. Motivated by his colour blindness, together with cybernetics pioneer Adam Montandon he developed an antenna which he had implanted in his skull to enable him to hear colours. First, Harbisson had to learn which light waves generate which sounds. Eventually, he began thinking and dreaming in colour, as artificially generated information became part of his perceptual world.