A peek into the colour coded world of Neil Har­bis­son

Born colour blind, Neil Har­bis­son at 21 co-di­vised and im­planted the an­tenna, which con­verts colour fre­quen­cies to sound, in his skull

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ACata­lan-raised, Bri­tish who is world’s first ‘cy­borg’ artist, and has been break­ing bar­ri­ers in the tech world since 2004. Neil has never seen colour since birth and came from a grey-scaled world un­til he mas­tered his life on his own terms. He used to face trou­ble in ev­ery as­pect of life, like trav­el­ing in met­ros where maps are coded in colour, flags of coun­tries or the brands whose lo­gos were en­tirely colour based. Re­silient one, de­cided to not wear tech­nol­ogy, but cre­ate a new or­gan for colour sens­ing. He chooses an­tenna to be his new sensory or­gan as it is in­de­pen­dent from sight and hear­ing, also it sup­ported the con­ver­sion of colour fre­quen­cies to sound, in his head.

“Each colour has its own vi­bra­tion, this vi­bra­tion can be felt in­side the bones, and then it be­comes sound to your in­ner ears, al­low­ing you to hear the sound of colours,” shares the cy­borg artist.

From last 14 years; he has been hon­or­ing this and craft­ing pieces of art, sym­phonies, and build­ing his very own ‘Cy­borg’ foun­da­tion in 2010 with his part­ner Moon Ribas. This or­ga­ni­za­tion aims to cre­ate, de­fend and pro­mote the cy­borg rights and cy­borg art. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also let or­di­nary peo­ple a chance to de­sign and cre­ate an or­gan they want to live with.

Iden­tity As A Cy­borg

Neil feels that he is a hy­brid of transpecies and tech­nol­ogy, which no longer makes him feel like a 100% hu­man. He ex­plores his iden­tity through his art­work, hu­man per­cep­tion, and ex­pe­ri­ences the con­nec­tion be­tween sight and sound via sensory in­puts.

Brain & Soft­ware In Unity

An­tenna in his skull is the ex­ten­sion of his senses which works as an elec­tronic eye. It senses the colour in front and con­verts it into sound vi­bra­tion. It has been so long that now he mem­o­rises the sound of the colour and is con­tin­u­ously dream­ing and sleep­ing in colour. He shares, “The use of soft­ware as an un­lim­ited ex­ten­sion of our brain and senses aims for the cy­borg ef­fect. The mo­ment when one stops notic­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween one’s self and the soft­ware, the mo­ment when cy­ber­net­ics and or­gan­ism be­come one. For thou­sands of years, we’ve been chang­ing the planet and de­sign­ing it in or­der to make our­selves more com­fort­able, whereas if we start de­sign­ing our­selves, things will change. The more we de­sign our­selves, the less we will have to de­sign the planet.”

The Strug­gles

Start­ing from the search of a doc­tor who would op­er­ate the brain and in­stall the an­tenna pre­cisely in his skull was a te­dious fight. Also, when he was trav­el­ing to UK, the au­thor­ity re­jected his pass­port as his of­fi­cial im­age was show­ing him with the an­tenna. Fur­ther, to which he ar­gued that the de­vice is sensory or­gan and not a piece of tech­nol­ogy and was ul­ti­mately hon­oured by the gov­ern­ment.

Mul­ti­ply­ing The Reach

His head also has an in­ter­net con­nec­tion, which al­lows him to re­ceive im­ages or sounds di­rectly into his skull from other parts of the world. Se­lected peo­ple – one from each con­ti­nent can send im­ages or sounds to his head by us­ing their mo­bile phone cam­eras and mi­cro­phone. This sep­a­ra­tion of his body and senses makes him feel as if he has an eye and ear in each con­ti­nent. Some­times he might be fac­ing a bor­ing brick wall yet be per­ceiv­ing a beau­ti­ful sun­set from a Aus­tralian eye. To this he says, “This is not VR (vir­tual re­al­ity) nor AR (aug­mented re­al­ity). This is RR, Re­vealed Re­al­ity: it’s when tech­nol­ogy al­lows us to re­veal a re­al­ity that al­ready ex­ists but that our tra­di­tional senses can­not per­ceive”

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