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‘Cyborg: A Documentary,’ About the Blurred Lines Between Life, Technology, and Art

by Tia Janowski

A colourful and experimental documentary exploring the life of colourblind artist, Neil Harbisson, famed for being the world’s first recognised cyborg.

 

As technology and humans continue to evolve, cyborg technology is becoming more prevalent than you might realise. Although it’s still experimental, it’s now becoming a popular way to solve biological issues. Cyborg: A Documentary, allows you to step into the vibrant and avant-garde world of Neil Harbisson, the world’s first formally recognised cyborg. 



Directed by Carey Born, the documentary explores Harbisson’s life as a cyborg and his goal to convince the world to design themselves. With cinematography by Emmy award-winning Matthew Akers, this documentary is an eye-opening and artistic look into the new development of cyborg technology, its impacts on everyday life and the controversies surrounding it.

 

Born colour-blind, Neil Harbisson had an antenna surgically implanted into his head to allow him to hear colour. Harbisson uses cyborg technology to create art that transforms colours into audible tunes, creating a mesmerising symphony that resonates with the tones he perceives through his antenna. 


The documentary does an excellent job of helping us understand Harbisson's lifestyle and daily experiences by pairing colours with how they sound to him. 


This makes it easier for the audience to comprehend his unique perspective and we don’t have to rely on our imagination when he describes the tones of different colours, making the documentary more relatable and human.

 

Cyborg: A Documentary isn’t just an exploration of Harbisson’s daily life- it’s a vibrant dance through the controversy, challenges, and futuristic possibilities of technology. The credits burst onto the screen in a whirlwind of colours, before turning black and white, setting the tone for the eclectic journey that follows. Harbisson’s interviews, infused with his enthusiasm, bring you into his world and shed light on life as a cyborg. 


The documentary cleverly weaves in black-and-white clips from vintage classics, such as Frankenstein, that complement the experimental and dystopian nature of Harbisson’s lifestyle. It’s not just a documentary; it’s a visual and auditory exploration of the future of technology.

 

As the documentary continues, there is a shift from Harbisson’s story to other pioneers experimenting with cyborg technology, including insights from his partner, Moon Ribas. 


Their joint exploration adds depth to the storyline by showing other uses of cyborg technology and their ‘Cyborg Foundation’; an organisation they created together in 2010 which aims to research, create and promote cyborg technology. From this, the future of cyborg technology becomes the main focus, raising questions about its potential genetic integration and the evolution of humanity itself.

 

Throughout, Born has been careful not to show a particular bias, also exploring the many controversies and hate towards cyborg technology. Cyborg: A Documentary, discusses the controversies, hate and threats that Harbisson has faced. This offers a raw and unfiltered look into his work. 


Facing death threats that caused him to relocate from New York to Barcelona, the inclusion of the controversies emphasises the challenges faced by those who attempt to redefine the boundaries of humanity.

 

This thought-provoking documentary leaves you questioning the future of humanity and technology. Harbisson’s views and their contrasting viewpoints from others leave you pondering the implications of cyborg technology long after the credits roll. Cyborg: A Documentary, is a mesmerising journey that blends a captivating story with cutting-edge visuals into an unforgettable documentary about cyborg evolution. 


It also does an excellent job of documenting the life of Harbisson and the impact of cyborg technology while also showing the struggles and implications. Using a variety of techniques and Harbisson's compelling interview clips, there's never an uninteresting moment, even when cyborg technology feels like it should be far in the future.

 

Edited by Emily Duff

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