Fine turn of phrase! It’s a device that people of a given time and place recognise as a metaphor for knowledge. The “engine” bit implies that the image drives the acquisition of knowledge. In the “Merleau-Ponty and the Epistemology Engine” article, Ihde and Selinger conclude that despite his engagement with materiality, Merleau-Ponty did not get as far as describing technical inventions in this way. I think Flusser did, although I’m not sure he understood knowledge in the same way.
It’s brilliant that the authors use the example of a camera obscura — which in turn drives the invention of photography. I want this to be about subjects and objects, and the possibility of blurring, or even suspending the distinction. Ihde, Don and Evan Selinger (2004) “Merleau-Ponty and Epistemology Engines,” Human Studies 27: 361-376.