Chromesthesia, a specific type of the neurological condition Synesthesia, is when an individual automatically, or involuntary, associates heard sounds with color. It has been a documented condition among many musicians, reportedly affecting Richard D. James of Aphex Twin and producer Pharell Williams. Famous Russian abstractionist Wassily Kandinsky drew inspiration from sounds he heard from colors, painting his own perceived music compositions.
It's a condition 1% of the world has, and a condition often documented as a disability because of the unintentional ability to "hear colors." But for 33 year old Neil Harbisson, who invented something with an ability to translate colors -into sound - that perseveres the complete color-blindness that has plagued him since birth.
Born with the condition Achromatopsia, or the absolute absence of color vision, lead Harbisson through a grayscale life; only able to perceive the muted and shadowy tones of the gray color spectrum; only able to dream in black and white. Yet, with the contributions of a plethora of scientists, Harbisson crafted a device so beautifully conceptual, that he now can perceive colors with correlating tones and frequencies.
Referred to as "The Electronic Eye", the device is an antennae that drapes over his forehead, connected to chip in the back of his skull. It emits vibrations while registering colors, causing unique software to translate these "light vibrations" into sonic frequencies. "Each color has its own vibration, so each color vibrates differently in my head - then corresponds to a different note or sound." Through relentless conditioning of his memory, he has since been able to automatically correlate these tones with colors.
The media has dubbed him "The Human Cyborg" (a title he has adopted wholeheartedly) for specifically mending soft and hardware biologically with successful results. In one of his many TED Talks, he describes hearing a symphony at an art gallery, or how fun the cleaning supply aisle of a grocery store is because of the cacophony of colors. He describes dressing himself in attire that sounds good, and considering funeral dress to correlate with the note B minor.
One philosophical quandary he supposes, is the social standards by which colors are attributed to feelings, yet he has a completely different assertion of each color's psychological affect..."Red, socially, is considered violent or passionate when, actually, it's the color with the lowest frequency...so it's a very peaceful color... Red, for me, is very innocent."
We're happy to report that his grayscale dreams are now vibrant..."I, now, dream in color."