Artist Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, rendering him completely color-blind. The Human Antenna experiment started as a way for Harbisson to extend his perception of color beyond this limited grey scale. Eventually, Harbisson and his team developed software capable of transposing colors to vibrations using a simple head-mounted camera extension. Initially, Harbisson carried this rather bulky hardware in a backpack, and simply wore a pair of headphones to hear the colors.

Neil Harbisson

Harbisson eventually had this antennae surgically inserted into his occipital bone. The colors he experiences now resound via bone conduction, as the occipital bone reverberates this sensation around his skull. Harbisson was even permitted to wear his headgear in his passport photo. Although Harbisson has certainly enjoyed the advantages of this unique sensory experience, he claims to have never intended to use this as a way to conquer his achromatopsia.

“My aim was never to overcome anything. Seeing in greyscale has many advantages. I have better night vision. I memorize shapes more readily… and black-and-white photocopies are cheaper.”

Neil Harbisson

| Words: Dallon Adams for Orenda Magazine |



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