Big Ideas: Neil Harbisson
- Language talk: English
Did you ever meet a cyborg? Now is your chance. Artist Neil Harbisson had always been unable to see colours, so in 2004 he had an antenna implanted in his head. This antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours via audible vibrations in his skull. Since then, he can not only hear colours, he also became officially recognised as a cyborg by the British government. Harbisson is now a cyborg activist who fights for the right to self-design – to take an active part in one’s own biological revolution.
Harbisson’s story is not just about extending his senses with technology. He also stretches our views on what humans are and can become. For Harbisson, being a cyborg means that he is technology. He identifies as transspecies, stating that he no longer feels 100% human. By engaging in this experiment, he creates new spaces in society and in the law. ‘The biggest challenge for cyborgs is to be socially accepted. Society needs to accept that there are people who wish to use technology as part of the body.’ In this Big Ideas lecture, Harbisson will take us along in what it means to be a cyborg and how, though experimentation, he pushes the boundaries of our self-image and imagination. Afterwards, there will be room for questions.
Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist. His artwork explores identity, human perception, the connection between sight and sound and the use of artistic expression via new sensory inputs. In 2010 he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborg art. In 2017 he co-founded the Transpecies Society, an association that gives voice to people with non-human identities, defends the freedom of self-design and offers the creation of new senses and new organs in community.
This Big Ideas lecture is a collaboration with Radboud Reflects.