Bridging senses – The color of sound

The rich green color of wet grass after the rain, the thin golden lines of dust twirling around next to an open window, the piercing blue sky on a crisp winter morning.
The color of your lover’s eyes, your mother’s favorite sweater and the cover of the oldest book in your library.

Nature did not gift Neil Harbisson to enjoy all of these.

Landscape1_Alina Nikolaou

Of course, black and white photography always appears as very artistic and sophisticated, from Instagram posts to war documentaries: people are fascinated by its plain beauty.

But Neil Harbisson never was.

Landscape2_Alina Nikolaou

Growing up in a grey scaled world, the color blind artist experienced a yawning gap in his senses for the first 21 years of his life, until he decided to become what he calls an “eyeborg”.

Thanks to a prosthetic device placed on his forehead, Harbisson began seeing colors.
How? The colors sensor identifies the light frequencies of the colors appearing infront of him, sends them to the back of his head where a chip translates them into sound frequencies.

A unique bridge between sight and hearing

As time went by and his brain began to adapt to the new sense- extension, Harbisson was able to associate colors with sounds, composing even Lady-Gaga salads by arranging his food according to color, and hence sound.
Have you ever wondered how Mozart’s timeless work (6:30) and Martin Luther King’s speech (7:01) would look on canvas? Or how the frequency of Leonardo di Caprio’s voice sounds (5:12)? The sound portrays Harbisson presents the public with illustrate the amazing beauty and symmetry of sound.

So why settle for the only 360 colors the normal human eye can perceive when you can add infrared und ultraviolet? The device allows Harbisson to extend the bridge between sight and hearing ton an unprecedented point.
Currently, whenever the phone rings, he feels the color green.
What color would it be if one of your beloved ones called?

Enjoy the funny and colorful TED Talk of the sonochromatic cyborg artist about what a gift technology is for people that have been deprived of their senses by nature.


Photo credits to Alina Nikolaou

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