Man who hears colour


Artist Neil Harbisson is completely colour-blind but he says a camera attached to his head allows him to hear colour. “Until I was 11, I didn’t know I could only see in shades of grey. I was diagnosed with achromatopsia (a rare vision disorder). When I was 16, I decided to study art. I was allowed to do the entire art course in greyscale – only using black and white. At university I went to Adam Montandon’s cybernetics lecture and asked if we could create something so I could see colour. His device is made up of a webcam, a computer and a pair of headphones and created software that would translate any colour in front of me into a sound. Musical scale matching colours to the notes made by the eyeborg. It has changed the way I perceive art. Now I have created a completely new world where colour and sound are exactly the same thing. I like doing sound portraits – I get close to someone’s face, I take down its sound and then I create a specific chord that relates to the face. I’m starting a sound portrait gallery of famous faces which began with Prince Charles, who came to Dartington College of Art, where I was studying in 2005.