Carolyn McKay

Thursday 29th April, from 1pm-3pm

Bon Marche Studio (UTS Bldg. 3, Lvl. 1, Rm. 105)

Presentation: 20mins.

As eyewitness testimony is given viva voce, (by word of mouth) my digital video and photomedia works explore how the human voice in a murder trial is an instrument of resuscitation, linking the present trial with the past crime scene. My research explores the phenomenological nature and paradoxical elements of testimony, focussing specifically on the voice of the witness.

Despite advances in forensic sciences, live eyewitness testimony plays a key role in murder trials. Whilst the ultimate goal of the testimonial process within the adversarial system is the production of an alleged objective truth, the entire process elevates subjective, phenomenological human experience and oral expression. Through the testimonial act and unique vocal print of the witness, the private, secret and sensorial experience must be externalised viva voce into the public discourse. It is with the accumulation of living testimonies, flesh-and-blood accounts and contradictory multiple viewpoints, that a narrative is plaited, the past crime scene may be reconstructed and a semblance of objective truth becomes apparent.

Using the medium of digital video, I explore the role of the human voice, and associated nonverbal communication, in articulating memories and the inner subjective experience. My methodology has involved attending murder trials and harvesting speech fragments from the various witnesses’ responses. I use these speech fragments in my video work, often floating them from a disembodied mouth, ‘orphaned’ from context. I aim to highlight the ambiguities in murder proceedings: the intersections of truth and fiction, the slippages of memory, the non-linear presentation of diverse narratives and the divulging of secret, private information into the public arena. In so doing, I wish to tap the tenor of the live trial experience, and create mere fragments of testimonial evidence for the viewer to ponder and engage with in an activity of speculation and interpretation.

Carolyn recently completed the MVA at SCA using digital video and photomedia to explore eyewitness testimony in murder trials.

Her paintings have been selected for major exhibitions including the Archibald Prize, Salon des Refusés and Portia Geach.

She has held solo shows in Sydney and Newcastle, as well as participated in group shows around Australia, Finland, Brazil and New York. Carolyn has been an artist-in-residence at The Lock-Up and Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon. In March, she will hold a solo show “Reports of Crime Etc., Etc.,” at The Lock-Up.




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A two day forum of creative research, experimentation and practice held from April 28-30 at the University of Technology, Sydney, and Serial Space Gallery, Chippendale.

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