NYU art professor to take photos with camera implanted in the back of his head


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In the name of art, New York University photography professor Wafaa Bilal is walking around with a camera implanted in the back of his head.

It’s a situation that invites pithiness: Cyclops would be jealous. It’s the most high-tech third eye ever. Next adopters: mothers?


But Bilal, an assistant arts professor at the university’s Tisch School, underwent the yearlong project because he was commissioned to do so. The images, automatically taken once a minute and then streamed live online starting next week, will be showcased at the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art when it opens Dec. 30 in Qatar.

He’s calling the project “The 3rd I.” His past efforts have also been controversial. Once, he inserted an avatar of himself playing a suicide bomber into a video game that he called Virtual Jihadi.

But while devoted to his craft, playing host to a camera hasn’t been easy for Bilal, he told the Wall Street Journal.

The 10-megapixel camera, 2 inches in diameter, was attached to his head about two weeks ago in a “transdermal implant” while he was under local anesthesia. But when three titanium plates were inserted under the skin on his head and then the camera screwed onto the attached posts, Bilal wasn’t at a hospital.

The process –- videotaped, of course –- took place at a piercing studio.

And since then, sleeping has been a hassle. And he’s had to cover up the camera -- which looks like a silver fire alarm -- with a lens cap while on campus to protect student and staff privacy.

-- Tiffany Hsu