Sonic cyborgs are coming to Vassar, February 24-26, 2016

A cyborg is defined as a person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built in to the body. But what, exactly, constitutes being a cyborg? Does using a hearing aid or a pacemaker make one a cyborg? Can computer enhancements actually make people more human and develop enhanced artistry? A series of free events sponsored by Vassar’s Creative Arts Across Disciplines Initiative explores these questions and more.

Author Michael Chorost, who chronicled his own experience of going deaf and getting a cochlear implant in the memoir Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human, kicks things off with a lecture on Wednesday, February 24. Chorost’s talk, “What It’s Like to Go Deaf and Get Your Hearing Back With an Implanted Computer (And What That Means for Theory),” will be held at 5:30pm in Taylor Hall, room 203.


Trevor Pinch is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies and Professor of Sociology at Cornell University and one of the leading scholars of science, technology, and society studies. He will give a lecture on Friday, February 26, 3:00pm, in Thekla Hall (in Skinner Hall). Pinch is particularly interested in technology’s impact on music and his lecture, “In the Moog: Understanding How the Electronic Music Synthesizer Became a New Instrument,” will delve into this topic.

Chorost and Pinch will also be in conversation about all things cyborg on Thursday, February 25, 7:00pm, in Taylor Hall, room 102.

All three of these events are part of a “Sonic Cyborgs” residency at the college and are free and open to the public. A second set of related events featuring cyborg activist Neil Harbisson (who has an antenna implanted in his skull to “hear color” and is officially recognized as a cyborg) and musician Marco Donnarumma (who merges sound art and performance art through science and technology) are planned for April 11-15; visit for more details. All events are sponsored by the Creative Arts Across Disciplines initiative at Vassar is generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Trevor Pinch
Trevor Pinch is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies and Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. He holds degrees in physics and sociology.  He has authored many books and numerous articles on aspects of the sociology of science, the sociology of technology, the sociology of economics, and sound studies.  His books include Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer and he is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. He is also a musician playing ancient synthesizers with The Electric Golem, The Eric Ross Ensemble, and the Atomic Forces.

About Michael Chorost
Michael Chorost is an author and public speaker. His first book, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human (Houghton Mifflin, 2005) is a memoir of going deaf and getting a cochlear implant. It won the PEN/USA Award for Creative Nonfiction in 2006 and was applauded by the L.A. Times as “the first cyborg memoir.” His second book, World Wide Mind (Free Press, 2011) is about the science of brainscanning and the prospect of enabling direct communication from one brain to another. He has written for Wired, Technology Review, New Scientist, Slate, the Chronicle for Higher Education, and many others. He has a B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D. in digital humanities from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating in 2000 he worked at a dot-com in San Francisco and then at SRI International, a research institute in Silicon Valley. He now lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their two cats. He is working on his third book.

About Creative Arts Across Disciplines (CAAD)
In 2014, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Vassar College a grant for this multi-year initiative to enhance integration of the creative arts across the college curriculum.

CAAD utilizes artist residencies, thematic programming, faculty and curricular development initiatives and student creative projects to broaden collaboration across academic disciplines.

Each academic year, CAAD has focused on one of the five senses. The theme for the 2015-16 year is hearing.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, February 3, 2016