Neil’s talk is very interesting and full of humour- he is witty and so positive! His jokes made me laugh out loud- such as references to eating his favourite songs and maybe if teenagers had Lady Gaga salads they might eat their vegetables!
He is aware that his eyes don’t show him what most of us see- a bright world bursting with colour and vitality. As an artist myself who loves flowers I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to only see shades of grey. I’ve always been into colour and even did a colour therapy diploma a few years ago. Colour is a big part of my life. But yet, Neil presents his world in such a way that my reaction is not of pity as I expected to react, but wonderment- he HEARS colour with his device and uses it to create music and art; he can even hear infra red.
This device has become part of his life and changed how he experiences the world so much that he now sees himself as a cyborg:
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 such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colours from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites.
Harbisson identifies himself as a cyborg, he feels both his mind and body are united to cybernetics. He doesn’t feel he is using or wearing technology, instead he feels he is technology. His artworks investigate the relationship between colour and sound, experiment the boundaries of human perception and explore the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions.
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 cyborgism as a social and artistic movement.
I have to admit to having a negative response to the idea of cyborgism- the images if scary sci dystopias, loss of human warmth and connection to nature, creatures like the Borg in Star Trek TNG coming to mind, but in the case of Neil Harbisson I see how this implanted device has changed his world for the better.