Spend a day with world’s first certified cyborg, Neil Harbisson

FEB 15, 2018 | By Radhika Sen
The world’s first ever cyborg artist, Neil Harbisson, throws away the planner and lives life in the moment.
Through the antenna implanted in his head, Neil can perceive colours beyond human perception.
Artist Isaac Budmen’s Cyborg Sculpture of Neil Harbisson.
Photographs courtesy Lars Norgaard.

Have you ever imagined everything around you bereft of colour? Meet artist Neil Harbisson – born completely colour blind, he decided to change his monochrome vision of the world, by implanting a device to his head, allowing him to experience the hues of life. Best known as the world’s first ever certified cyborg artist from the US, Neil is able to “listen” to intricate colours that are beyond human perception like infrareds and ultraviolet.

According to him each hue has its own“vibration”, felt inside the bones, then it becomes sound to his inner ears, allowing him to hear the colour symphony. The British born Catalonian creative’s aim was to form a closer bond with nature and connect with other species, including insects and animals. Thanks to his implants, the cyborg has better night vision, can paint sounds and see his monochrome world in a whole new way, also translating in his work that explores the relationship between colour and sound. Neil will be speaking at ID Symposium, India Design ID 2018 about non-traditional body parts that help you design your own perception and senses revealing a reality that many of us don’t know exists. A glimpse at the unconventional lifestyle of this game-changer.

Morning: My days are never the same. I am constantly on the move and don’t end up staying more than five days in the same city. The other day, for instance, I returned to Barcelona after attending an event in Tokyo. Thanks to jet-lag I woke up at 4 am. After a quick cup of coffee and baguette for breakfast, I headed out to finish pending errands. I avoid taking public transport, as I prefer to move on foot and discover things along the way. I often stop to watch cultural events taking place on the streets or spend quality time at a busy square in Barcelona or New York
During the day: I have the advantage of living and working in my studio in Barcelona. While I don’t have a fixed address, this is the closest thing to home. I don’t believe in separating work and daily life, it’s all the same to me. My studio located underground is designed like a bunker. There are no windows to let in natural air and sunlight as the idea is to feel completely disconnected from the outside world. The entire place is lit up with a variety of unique lights that allow you to see only in grey scale. We have a grand piano that’s used to perform surgeries on people who come to get technical devices implanted in their bodies, and also doubles up as a bed to sleep on.
Afternoon: I don’t take breaks. Work for me is leisure. Right now we are in the thick of preparing for the Trans-species Society Workshop, an event that’s open to anyone who wants to acquire new senses.
Evening: I like surrounding myself with creative and humorous people. At times we might step out for a cup of coffee. My fridge is always empty. I usually pop into a supermarket and buy something to eat on the go.
Night: I feel permanently jet-lagged because of my erratic travel itinerary. Sometimes I like listening to the musical harmony of colours. Yellow, blue and pink combine to strike a beautiful note.
Website: www.cyborgarts.comAlso read: Arzan Khambatta’s studio is straight out of a movie set