DUBAI // The world’s first “cyborg artist”, who has been fitted with special equipment to perceive colours as sounds is to perform in the emirate.
Neil Harbisson was born with a rare form of colour blindness called achromatopsia, where a person can only perceive in black, white or shades of grey.
In 2004, to overcome his disability, he had an antenna implanted that transmits audible vibrations into his skull and allows him to “hear” colours as different musical frequencies.
He claims to be the first officially recognised cyborb in the world after he successfully petitioned the British government to be allowed to wear his equipment in his passport photo.
Next month, he will be translating the colours of Dubai into a musical composition for the Dubai Canvas Festival.
He believes Dubai’s cityscape and cultural diversity provides the perfect setting to share his distinctive tonal perspectives on colour.
“Dubai offers a range of microtonalities that other cities don’t offer. The variations of beige, light maroons, ochres and desert-sand colours create microtonal sounds between F# and G that offers us the opportunity to explore specific colour and sound ranges in depth,” said the 33-year-old. “I’m looking forward to exploring and experiencing it through my antenna.”
His technological augmentation not only translates colours into sounds but also allows him to receive information on invisible colours, such as infrared and ultraviolet.
His Wi-Fi enabled antenna also allows him to hear sounds from phone calls, music, video and satellites.
“I’ve taught the sound of colour to singers and musicians in different projects, but I’ve never created a musical piece from the colours of a specific city. Dubai will be the first,” he said.
Ayesha bin Kalli, a member of the festival’s organising committee, was delighted with Harbisson’s participation.
“Through the event, we are seeking to bring together artists who can inspire people to think in new creative ways. “
The Dubai Canvas Festival runs March 1 to 14 at Jumeirah Beach Residence and features 30 artists from 14 countries.