This work has been up for more than a year and it still compels me. Neil writes that "no human is involved in choosing, positioning, or blending the images." But that's not quite right, of course. Humans were involved in envisioning the scene, composing the photos, processing the image files, uploading them to Flickr, tagging them, sharing them, making them available via API, coding their aggregation, displaying them, and tagging the results all over again. So it's really all about humans, all about creative process, in which human interposition is essential, ineluctable.
Our sensorimotor engagement with the world shapes our perceptions of the world. This is one of the main tenets of embodied cognition, a line of cognitive scientific investigation that promotes the inclusion of the constraints, opportunities, and affordances of the physical organism and its physical world. The project rejects the notion of the brain as a "central processor" controlling an organism’s actions in favor of distributed decision making that's embedded in the organism's biology — or even in some framework of the environment itself. Embodied cognition thus extends the project of connectionism, with its distributed knowledge structure, but adds the restriction of biological and evolutionary realism.
It strikes me this approach is on the right track. Embodied cognition goes beyond a rejection of Cartesian mind/body dualism, extending the inquiry into ways our perceptions are shaped by — and shape — the world. The experience of moving my hand, or casting my eyes across a scene, changes my perception of myself in the scene, thus changing the scene itself. Recursive? Maybe, but acknowleding the role that the sensing organism plays in the sensing itself is important and, for some reason, new.
"The content of your tactile experience is enacted by your exploratory hand movements... Vision acquires content in exactly this way. You aren’t given the visual world all at once. You are in the world, and through skillful visual probing... you bring yourself into contact with it... Vision is touch-like. Like touch, vision is active... You enact your perceptual content, through the activity of skillful looking."
— Alva Noë (2004), Action in Perception, MIT Press