Just how do images retain their power to fascinate, despite the background swell of visual chatter that has come to characterise contemporary social and cultural life? Despite the prevalence of ‘the visual’ in today’s social and economic world order, we know surprisingly little about how images function. Models of communications theory and ‘semiotics’ have provided valuable insight into the way in which art, in film, television and advertising convey specific beliefs and messages. But this is only one facet of the life of images. Beyond there lies a hotly disputed theoretical terrain ranging across different, more-or-less discreet academic disciplines and areas of research: from philosophy and psychology on the one hand to semiotics and mediology on the other; from theories of perception to reception theory; from theoretical sociology to the more open field of contemporary cultural criticism. In this volume, some of the foremost thinkers in the field of ‘visual theory’ provide important critical insight into the very real difficulties involved in theorising the image, both from a ‘technical’, philosophical and/or political point of view. Including essays by Régis Debray, Martine Joly, Dick Hebdige, Scott Lash, Heinz Paetzold and Richard Wollheim.