*Graafstra had set up shop in a booth in the middle of an exhibit hall at the Austin Convention Center in Texas’ capital, where he gathered last month with several hundred others who call themselves “body hackers” — people who push the boundaries of implantable technology to improve the human body.
The movement evokes visceral reactions, brings up safety and ethical concerns and quickly veers into sci-fi questions about the line between human and cyborg. …
If there’s a rock star in the body-hacking movement, it’s Neil Harbisson, a colorblind artist from Barcelona who persuaded a doctor to implant a camera in the back of his head. The antenna, as he calls it, essentially lets Harbisson listen to colors by detecting the dominant color in front of him and translating it into musical notes.
Neil Harbisson, an artist from Barcelona, has a camera implanted in the back of his head, which he says allows him to listen to colors.
The way he tells it, a medical ethics committee in Europe had refused to sign off on the operation, but a doctor agreed to perform the surgery anonymously. From it, Harbisson emerged with a camera connected to a device on the back of his skull, its lens dangling in front of his face on a rod that arcs over his head.
As he walked the streets of Austin, he described how he perceived the world: the red traffic light sounded like an A note; the green grass sounded like an F.
In his keynote address at the conference, Harbisson said the first time he heard those colors in his sleep, he felt truly cyborg. Now, he no longer identifies as human but as a “cybernetic organism.”
“If we define ourselves as organisms, suddenly our group is wider,” he said. “We are on the same level as an insect, or as a cat, or as a plant.”*