Aesthetics of Violence Roundtable

Thursday 19 November 2020
10.00 - 12.00pm

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The University of Sydney

Pushing the boundaries of artistic and scholarly practice, Sydney Environment Institute’s Sites of Violence project continues to explore the forms of violence that surround us, hidden in plain sight. Continuing to apply the transboundary approach to knowledge production and communication, Sites of Violence will be hosting two roundtables in mid-November. These events emerge from a wider project that combines artistic performance and academic scholarship to produce new perspectives and more engaging ways of communicating with each other and with our community.

Each roundtable will be shaped around a particular theme and question and will provide space for thought leaders to discuss these questions in a free-flowing environment of peers. This discussion will guide and ground scenes in the upcoming Sites of Violence immersive theatre work The foul of the air, directed and composed by Michelle St Anne. Sitting in on these sessions to listen and observe will be performers and musicians from this theatre work, who will take both the spoken and unspoken lessons from these roundtables and will interpret key messages through their arts practice. In this way, academic insight will shape the performance as points of discussion are first incorporated into rehearsals and ultimately into the final production to be premiered in early 2021.

How is violence portrayed, presented, composed, and decomposed? The theme of this roundtable is ‘composition’, with a discussion shaped by each researcher’s insights on the process and practice of composition in filmic, musical, forensic, legal, and visual arts formats.



Bruce Isaacs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History. His research focusses on a wide range of film studies-related topics: histories of film (with a focus on Hollywood, though he has abiding interests in various ‘New Waves’ and movements), film aesthetics and style, critical approaches to film production, film and popular culture (including the relationship between film and other pop culture art forms such as television, literature and music). Bruce is currently intrigued by various developments in High Concept Hollywood and its evolution of new aesthetic practices, including digital and 3D cinema.

Rebecca Scott Bray is a criminologist whose research focuses on issues around death and the deceased in law and society. She has particular interests in death investigation, death review and the coronial jurisdiction, examining coronial law and practice and articulating issues, and in visual/cultural criminology with a focus on cultural practices such as death-related art and media. Rebecca has taught criminology at the University of Melbourne, and thereafter worked as Co-ordinator of Coronial Inquests for the Department of Human Services, Victoria, Australia. Before her appointment at the University of Sydney, Rebecca was a Research Officer at the Victorian Coroner’s Office. She was Director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology, Sydney Law School, from 2012-2016.

Damien Ricketson is a Sydney-based composer and collaborator on the SEI project Sites of Violence. His music is characterised by colourful sound-worlds, novel forms and is often multi-sensory in nature. Recent research has focused on the physiological relationship between sound and the body in the pursuit of a visceral music to bypass the brain and act directly on the nervous system. Damien was the co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of the new music organisation Ensemble Offspring (1995-2015), and the Program Leader of Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2015-2019).

Carolyn McKay is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School where she teaches Criminal Law, Civil & Criminal Procedure and Digital Criminology. She is also a visual artist and curator and completed postgraduate studies at Sydney College of the Arts before her PhD at Sydney Law School. She has held solo exhibitions, been commissioned to create audio-video works for curated exhibitions, and was the recipient of a 2018 Museums & Galleries of New South Wales exhibitions project award. Her latest criminal law/criminological research examines motel crime scenes through the lens of ‘ghost criminology’.