The World’s First Cyborg Artist

Grace Higgins | May 19th, 2019

Neil Harbisson is the world’s first cyborg that is an artist, thanks to an antenna that has been implanted into his skull. Harbisson is able to paint sounds and hear images due to this antenna. This allows him to make statements such as ringtones are green and that a certain artist may be red or pink.

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Neil Harbisson also states that he can have phone calls in his own head, the antenna dangles over the top of his forehead curving behind his head over the back of his skull. This device is known as the Eyeborg and allows Harbisson to interface with Bluetooth devices or even connect to the internet. Harbisson can connect his mind with the internet or any device that is close by, which essentially means he is a cyborg that can connect to anything in the world.

Harbisson spends most of his time working with Moon Ribas, another artist that has a device implanted in her. Ribas has a sensor implanted in her left arm which will vibrate when an earthquake occurs, she feels this allows her to be connected directly to the Earth and provide a better dance performance. Ribas implant is hardly noticeable which is nothing like Harbisson own antenna which hovers above his head – you just can’t miss it.

The change in his lifestyle came about because Harbisson truly believes that humans have a duty to use technology to reach new senses. He has stated numerous times that this is not just a life decision, it is an artistic statement of using his body and brain as a canvas. The antenna he has inserted in his brain is a type of sensor that translates color into a sound. It is a device that can detect the hue in a light and converts them to a frequency of sound that humans can hear.

Originally the device was created to help Harbisson cope with a rare form of blindness that causes patients to see the world in greys. Though he still sees the world in greyscale, he can now hear the vivid colors which let him transform the way he sees the world. The first prototypes needed him to wear headphones, but later the University of Plymouth’s cybernetics department placed a vibrating chip inside his skull. This invention meant that Harbisson became the first cyborg artist.

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