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NYU Professor Gets Booted from Guest Lists After Implanting Camera in Back of Head

By Ben Fractenberg | December 3, 2010 11:07am
Wafaa Bilal had a camera implanted in his head, which will live-stream photographs every minute.
Wafaa Bilal had a camera implanted in his head, which will live-stream photographs every minute.
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AP/Tina Fineberg

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — An NYU professor who had a camera implanted in the back of his head has been uninvited to friends’ dinner parties, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The camera in Wafaa Bilal’s head is programmed to take a photograph once every minute, which will then be streamed live on his website starting Dec. 15 and also at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar starting Dec. 30.

"If people don't accept it, then I don't want the invitation," Mr. Bilal told The Journal in reaction to getting booted off some guest lists. "It's part of me, and that's the idea."

Bilal reportedly underwent surgery at a tattoo parlor specializing in body modifications to implant the camera. He said the procedure was "painful" and the camera is "uncomfortable for sure," according to the paper.

His decision to do the project was prompted by his desire to document his life after a "nomadic" childhood in the Middle East, the Journal reported.

The professor said he will cover the camera while teaching at NYU to protect the privacy of students and other faculty.

"As a school of the arts, a school whose mission is to educate artists, we place a high value on his right to free expression in his creative work as an artist ...," NYU said in a statement. "We also take seriously the privacy issues his project raises, its impact on our students, and the importance of preserving trust in the pedagogical relationship between a faculty member and students."

Bilal said he would prefer to keep the camera on at all times but understood the school’s concerns.

"NYU is an institution that is very supportive of my research, but they have a community to protect and I think they have a valid point," he told The Journal. "I would have liked not to have the cap, but I have to accept the condition of the institution that supports me."