Between divine evidence and ready facsimiles, figments and documents, the image has radically fluctuated in material medium, social utility, and ethical implication throughout history. All images, as art historian Hans Belting has argued, imply the absence of what they depict while acquiring an existence in themselves. But why do we produce images, and what sorts of meaning do images produce? Through readings in anthropology, philosophy, and the histories of art and science, this course steeps you in an intellectual history of the image while introducing you to the analysis of visual culture. We begin with cave paintings, religious icons, the notion of graven images, and iconoclasm, to consider the controversial status of images between the sacred and the profane, life-likeness and death. Next, we track the relationship between knowledge and vision through Renaissance painting, the 19th-century urbanism of light and glass, and the politics of spectacle and surveillance. We then return to painting with Abstract Expressionism as a case study: how can non-representational pictures express -- and sometimes move viewers to tears? The course concludes in the present day as we explore machinic vision and digital circulation.