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Carolyn McKay

About the Work


Carolyn McKay, Technosomatica 01, digital photomedia on lightbox, 841 x 594 x 60mm

Carolyn’s PhD at Sydney Law School examined (pre-pandemic) the increasing use of videoconferencing technologies between criminal courts and prisons; an emergent videosphere of justice. Carolyn undertook fieldwork interviews with people-in-prison about these communication technologies and ultimately published a book, The Pixelated Prisoner (2018, Routledge). Throughout her PhD candidature, she created related artworks exploring this new technological 'observatory' of humanity, a post-biological instrument of power and control over the imprisoned body where the person is reduced to an isolated, disembodied subject in virtual space. Referencing Michel Foucault, she conceptualised videoconferencing from a carceral environment as an instrument of political technology and machinery that assures dissymmetry and difference, impacting upon the visibility and construction of the incarcerated person.


Carolyn McKay, Ghost Motel 02 (Wombo Ai) 2023 

Since 2022, I’ve been using Ai as a composition tool in my painting practice. My current body of work examines crimes in retro motels through a framework of ghost criminology: the ghost being a metaphor for the traces of accumulated human experience and transgression that haunt any shared social space. Having lived and worked in Tokyo for 3 years, I’ve developed a love of mid-century Japanese cinema so I decided to merge that with my interest in mid-century crime scene motels. Ghostly images emerged from my text prompts with Ai adding eerie elements of weirdness to my concepts. A related image was Highly Commended in the inaugural Prompted Peculiar prize, Ballarat International Foto Biennale, 2023.

Blackstone Gallery.

470 Hunter St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Exhibition open

1st - 5th November 

Opening Night

Friday, 3rd November

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 

Time and Date

Dr Carolyn McKay completed postgraduate degrees at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) and a PhD, University of Sydney Law School where she is now a Senior Research Fellow, Sydney Law School and Co-Director, Sydney Institute of Criminology. 

While completing her postgraduate studies, she was a casual lecturer at UoN in both fine arts and criminal law. 


Carolyn originally trained as a traditional oil painter but her time at SCA led her towards a nexus between criminal justice issues and her arts practice, and broadened her practice to include digital media. Her audio/video/light art installations in solo and curated group exhibitions respond to contemporary and historical criminal justice issues: Word of Mouth (Dedspace SCA 2009); Reports of Crime, Etc., Etc., (The Lock-Up 2010, Mosman Art Gallery 2011); Covert (galleryeight 2012); Bodies in Distress (The Lock-Up 2012); a very fine river: convict stories from the Hunter (Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery 2014); Doing Time (Verge Gallery 2015); Exhibit A (The Lock-Up 2015); Crime Scene Motel (Scratch Art Space 2022 - some works co-designed with VR artist, Nick Creecy); Floating Between Couches & Motels (University of Sydney Law Library 2023); Ai Review (ellipsis gallery 2023); and Prompted Peculiar (Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2023). 


Carolyn has been selected for residencies at Bundanon 2005, The Lock-Up 2009 and Nobby's Lighthouse 2023. She curated justiceINjustice (The Lock-Up 2018), an exhibition that received a M&GNSW IMAGinE award.

Artist Bio

Chromatic Festival and The University of Newcastle acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal Nation, Darkinjung Nation, Biripai Nation, Worimi Nation, Wonnarua Nation and Eora Nation. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.


Chromatic Festival and The University of Newcastle recognise that First Nations sovereignty was never ceded. This continent always was and always will be Aboriginal Land. 


We respect their cultural heritage, beliefs, and continuing relationship with the land, and recognise that they are the proud survivors of more than two hundred years of dispossession.

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