Law Text Culture


In November 2008, Gordon Wood was found guilty of the murder of his girlfriend, model Caroline Byrne, over a decade after her body was found at the base of an ocean cliff in Eastern Sydney, New South Wales, known as The Gap -- a place that, even while bearing the reputation of a ‘notorious suicide spot’, has been widely promoted as a popular tourist attraction. This article explores the mainstream media’s reporting and regulation of meaning in relation to the crime and the dichotomous tensions and competing (re)interpretations of The Gap this has produced throughout the investigation into Caroline Byrne’s death. More generally, this article seeks to understand the ways in which legacies of violence, death and suffering are often embodied in and by the spaces and places where these acts take place and how we might begin to explain our own and the media’s frenetic fascination with and ambivalence towards these sites, using a critical discourse that moves beyond the lexicon of legal discourse. In doing so, this article explores the limitations of language; questioning whether available and relevant critical cultural vocabularies are able to adequately capture and communicate the sometimes unsettling complexities and intricacies of embodied places and spaces that ultimately challenge (and complicate) the conventions of crime scene (re)presentation as a result of their multiple other histories.