I Listen To Color: How Sound Is Bringing Neil Harbisson One Step Closer To Cyborg Status

Barcelona based artist Neil Harbisson is a self-described cyborgist and colourologist who was born with a condition called achromatopsia which rendered him color blind, leaving him to view the world in black and white. With the help from a device attached to his head which translates color into sound, Neil hears the color of the world via audible frequencies.

The idea for the device came about in 2003 when while attending Dartington College of Arts in England, Neil met Adam Montandon who was giving a lecture on cybernetics and they soon teamed up to start developing the eyeborg project.

In 2004, a passport photo of Neil featuring the device was rejected when he tried to renew his UK passport but after weeks of petitioning and backing from his doctors and community, they finally agreed to let him use the prosthetic device in the photo. Neil all along claiming that his ‘eyeborg’ device’s software was connected to his brain and it wasn’t just a device but a part of his body, therefore giving him true cyborg status. He’s even recently started the Cyborg Foundation to help defend cyborg rights.

Neil’s performance art, music and video works explore the relationship between sound, color and movement. Check out a recent TED talk where he explains how he sees and hears the world followed by some of his audio and video art works below. In the Sonochromatic Music Scale video, he demonstrates the 360 microtones in an octave of ‘color sound’.

Neil is due to have surgery this month that will permanently fuse the device to his skull.


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