Neil Harbisson the cyborg activist and his early life
Is a Catalan-born British-Irish-American cyborg artist and activist for transpecies rights. He is best known for being the first person in the world with an antenna implanted in his skull. Since 2004, international media has described him as the world’s first legally recognized cyborg and as the world’s first cyborg artist. His antenna sends audible vibrations through his skull to report information to him. This includes measurements of electromagnetic radiation, phone calls, and music, as well as videos or images which are translated into audible vibrations. His WiFi-enabled antenna also allows him to receive signals and data from satellites.
In 2010, he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation, an international organization that defends cyborg rights, promotes cyborg art and supports people who want to become cyborgs. In 2017, he co-founded the Transpecies Society, an association that gives voice to people with non-human identities, raises awareness of the challenges transpecies face, advocates for the freedom of self-design and offers the development of new senses and organs in community.
Harbisson is the son of a Spanish mother and a Northern Irish father. He was born with achromat vision. He grew up in Barcelona, where he studied piano and began to compose music at the age of 11. At 16, he studied fine art at the Institut Alexandre Satorras, where he was given special permission to use no colour in his work. His early works are all in black and white.
As a teenager, Harbisson lived in a tree for several days in Mataró to save the trees from being cut down. His initiative was supported by over 3,000 people who signed a petition to maintain the trees. After days of protest, the city hall announced the trees would not be cut. At the age of 19, he moved to England to study music composition at Dartington College of Arts.