Melanie King // Statement

Melanie's practice explores the intrinsic connection between humans, materials and phenomena existing beyond the Earths' atmosphere. She primarily uses sun, moon and starlight to cause effects on photosensitive materials. Melanie can often be found in the darkroom, and is known for her work with silver gelatin materials, cyanotype and daguerreotype. Melanie also explores materiality in relation to traditional printmaking processes, using meteorite-imbued ink to create a series of photo-etchings. Melanie's practice is focused upon demonstrating how humanity, planet earth and the greater universe are intimately connected. In the current ecological climate, Melanie believes that it is particularly important to consider our relationship to our home planet.

Melanie's work as a curator and events organiser also explores the relationship between light, photography and the natural world. Melanie believes that the action of looking through a telescope or at a dark sky full of stars can be a transformative experience. With a cosmic viewpoint, it is possible to gain the perspective that we as humans are part of something much bigger than ourselves. In other words, our ecological and social networks areaffected by our own actions.

Melanie's obsession with astronomy began at a young age when she was introduced to the concept of a vast universe by her parents. Melanie experienced deep anxiety as a child when faced with the idea of deep time and giant stars, which led to a mental block lasting until she began exploring again at art school in early adulthood. Melanie's fear of space has now become a fascination and she is consequently exploring the concept of the cosmic sublime. An important turning point for Melanie's research was the Envisioning the Universe seminar at the National Maritime Museum in 2013 convened by astronomer Marek Kukula. Here, the concept of the astronomical sublime was discussed in depth. 

The complimentary practices of astronomy and analogue photography processes rely on a precise interplay between total darkness and controlled exposure to light. Melanie's writing has recently focused on this experience in relation to metaphorical darkness, both in the search for knowledge and for spiritual enlightenment.

Melanie's research on the relationship between astronomy and ecology follows on from a research project on soap bubbles as a metaphor for the brevity of life. In 17th Century Dutch Vanitas paintings, the soap bubble was used as a visual metaphor to remind the viewer of the transient nature of life. Melanie compared these Vanitas paintings to modern and contemporary art pieces which explored ephemerality through the use of soap bubbles. Melanie then compared the soap bubble metaphor to cosmological theory, where scientists often compare cosmological happenings to bubbles and foam. This bubble metaphor is used as a metaphor within inflation theory (the universe as a giant expanding bubble) and multiverse theory (the idea that the universe exists as one bubble amongst a sea of cosmic foam)

Melanie King's Research Blog



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