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The World’s First Skull Transmitted Painting

posted Sep 7, 2014, 3:53 AM by Ellen Pearlman


Cyborg Neil Harbisson stands in front of the first skull transmitted painting in the world

Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas are co-directors of the Cyborg Foundation, “a nonprofit organization that aims to help people become cyborgs (extend their senses by applying cybernetics to the organism) and defend cyborg rights and promote the use of cybernetics in the arts.”  

Neil was born color blind, in that he could only see black, white and grey. He has a device called an Eyeborg implanted into his skull which lets him perceive 360 colors as sound. I previously blogged about Neil in a post on Planet 3D here. Since then, Neil showed up with Moon in New York, and one thing led to another and..he performed a skull transmitted painting at HypenHub.

A Skype connection was set up in Times Square, and volunteers were asked to paint seven different columns of different colored paint onto a canvas. A camera in Times Square zoomed into the canvas. The vibrational frequency of the color was sent over the internet, and both projected onto the wall at HyphenHub for the audience to see, and into a special connection in the back of Neil’s head that goes into his brain and can receive internet connections. He was able to hear the frequency sound of the color and translate it into the same color as was being painted live time in Times Square. He kept his back to the audience the whole time. 


Audience member painting real time in Times Square, image transmitted by Skype onto wall of Hyphen Hub

What you see above is the final picture. The way it worked is someone would paint one stripe at a time. The first one they painted was green. The camera zoomed in on it.


A close up of the green column, projected onto the wall in HypenHub via Skype

Then Neil would concentrate to hear the sound. He commented that there was a lot of infra-red sounds in Times Square because of the surveillance equipment, making it hard to concentrate. Neil can hear infra red and ultra violet through his sensors  However, without turning around to see what was being projected onto the wall, he successfully heard the color green and painted it.


Neil catches the frequency of green in his head and paints it

The process was repeated with six more colors. Neil accurately heard each one. At the end he apologized saying it was only the first time and he would get better.

Also during the evening, Moon Ribas peformed a dance each time she sensed an earthquake from the sensor strapped to her arm. If there had been no earthquake during the performance, there would have been no dancing.


Moon performing to live earthquakes on the Richter scale

The very definitions of art, perception, and creative practice is about to explode. This is the first example of color transposed as a frequency into a sound, back into color through someone’s brain. But it certainly is not the last.