We live in a global culture of images, a society of the spectacle, a world of semblances and simulacra. We are surrounded by pictures; we have an abundance of theories about them, but it doesn’t seem to do us any good. Knowing what pictures are doing, understanding them, doesn’t seem necessarily to give us power over them. I am far from sanguine that my work, or any scholarly contribution, can change the situation. Perhaps our main task is one of disillusionment, of opening a negative critical space that would reveal how little we understand about pictures and how little difference mere “understanding” alone is likely to make. Images, like histories and technologies, are our creations, yet are also commonly thought to be “out of control” – or at least out of “someone’s” control.