Melanie King is a visual artist and practice-based researcher at the Royal College of Art. She is interested in the relationship between starlight, photography and materiality. Her PhD research project “Ancient Light: Rematerializing the Astronomical Image” considers how light travels thousands, if not millions of years, before reaching photosensitive film or a digital sensor. Her main body of photographs “Ancient Light” comprises of a series of analogue photographic negatives and prints of star-scapes, as well as a series of images created using telescopes and observatories around the world. Alongside this body of work, Melanie has produced 16mm films of the Moon and photographic etchings created using meteorite-imbued ink, milled at the Royal School of Mines. Melanie has produced daguerreotypes and world-record sized cyanotypes exploring the relationship with the Sun and photosensitive material. The purpose of her research is to demonstrate the intimate connection between celestial objects (sun, moon, stars), photographic material and the natural world.
Her practice-based research has taken her on a journey far and wide, including collaborative projects with the UCLO Observatory in London, Kielder Observatory on the border of England and Scotland, the Laboratory for Dark Matter Research in Boulby, UK and the EU Commission in Ispra, Italy. Melanie has participated in residencies in Iceland, Italy, Spain, Ireland, the Lake District (UK) and Cornwall (UK) to spend time underneath the night sky. For her research, she has also analysed analogue astronomical specimens within the UCL Space History Archive and the Royal Astronomical Society in London. Further afield, Melanie has visited the Mount Wilson Observatory, Carnegie Archives and Hale Solar Laboratory in California, USA as well as the European Space Agency in Leiden, the Netherlands.
Recent work has been inspired by Melanie's move to Margate, UK, where she is in close proximity to dark skies, dramatic sunsets and a tumultuous sea.