top of page


Attentional Engines

Aesthetics and Cognitive Science

Visual Stylometry Research Group


Artist's Statement

Portrait of the artist as a test subject...

Neuroscience of Art Resource Page

This website is under perpetual reconstruction. Stay tuned. (c) William P. Seeley, October 2022.

Research and other interests:


Attentionalengines documents my work as a philosopher and artist.


My research in philosophy and cognitive science explores the way memory, attention, and sensorimotor processing tune the content of perception to our everyday needs and interests. I have borrowed a methodological strategy from neuroscience of art in these pursuits. Professional dancers, novice viewers, and dance stimuli have been used to study expertise effects in perception. Similar strategies have also been used to study the crossmodal perceptual processes that underwrite our capacity to recognize and understand emotionally expressive behaviors social contexts, e.g. music, film, and dance. They have also been fruitfully deployed by neuroscientists and psychologists who employ elements of film studies to explore the influences memory, attention, and environment on the structure of perceptual experience. I argue that the methodology generalizes to a broad range of artistic media and can be used to address a range philosophical questions about perception and the nature of emotions, the ontology of art, and artistic appreciation.

I recently finished a book on cognitive science and aesthetics titled Attentional Engines: A Perceptual Theory of Art (Oxford University Press). I have a proposal in the works for a book about Lego robots and philosophy of artificial intelligence. Some collaborators of mine, Dr. Catherine Buell (Mathematics, Fitchburg State University) and Rick Sethi (Computer Science, Fitchburg State University), and I received an NEH grant in 2016 to develop image analysis software that could be used to study the nature of artistic style and the image statistics that drive our interactions with artworks.

I am also a sculptor. My artworks have been exhibited in New York City, Tokyo, The Addison Gallery of American Art, Centenary College of Louisiana, Indiana University, and Yale University. I have, for the past decade or so, been exploring automatic and chance procedures in drawing and dance with my philosophy of art students. I have also collaborated with colleagues in dance, music, and computer science to develop an automatic scoring technique for multi-media performances

In my spare time I am an avid wilderness canoeist. The picture above is from a trip in 1993. I had hitched a ride 75 kilometers down Lac Mistassini with Tommy Voyageur to the Cree village of Baie du Poste. I wanted to check on the location of a forest fire blocking our way up the Wabissinane River. We were five weeks from James Bay and looking for a route around the conflagration.

There are some stories about guitars, New York City, me, and some other folks in an ambiguously specified past. Some of them are true. But none of the muddy porch players have been booked for a garage band hoedown in a while. CBGB's, Brownies, and The Lakeside Lounge are all, like Danceteria, the Peppermint Lounge, and the Mudd Club before them, closed 7 days a week. Only Arlene Grocery survives. I do, however, have aspirations to remember my mandolin, pick up a lap steel, and learn how zydeco goes on an accordion.

* Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Art, Philosophy of Mind, Embodied Cognition, Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Sculpture, Dance, Installation Art. 

I'm a title. Click here to add your own text and edit me.
bottom of page