Academic Lecture Series

The Academic Lecture Series is delivered by Research students at the RCA Students’ Union.

Our speakers for this term’s lectures are outlined below.

Wednesday 17th January – Sackler Seminar Room – 7pm

Shannon Forrester


These words describe a constellation of human biology, identity, and action.  But, what does each word really mean? Are they interchangeable? How are they different? In this interactive session participants will work on unpacking the meaning of each term to understand better how they function and/or how they ideally should function.

Wednesday 31st January – Gorvy Lecture Theatre – 7pm

Nayan Kulkarni

The Golden Hour

Making (a) Light Work in the Post-Cinematic City.

The post-cinematic mode of production surely is the end of scripted space? Or, perhaps better, the completed pinocleptic intensification of all scripts. Not one stage, but all stages, at all times, in all spaces. Not one script, but all possible scripts. Not a sequence of shots managing experience, but all shots moving in an infinite depth of field. Or, infinite monkeys writing infinite amounts of nonsense with the cage master hoping that at some point something might get written. But the cage master is an apparition, a projection generated by the nervous monkeys of the now decaying base. The monkeys inhabit a total superstructure, a death machine, a necroimage.

He’s right. You can only feel a sense of awe at its immensity…

Despina Zacharopoulou performing at the SPIT!Manifesto by Carlos Alejandro Motta, John Arthur Peetz and Carlos (Atabey) Maria Romero at London Frieze Art Fair 2017. Photo by Simon Banos.

Wednesday 14th February – Gorvy Lecture Theatre – 6.30pm

Despina Zacharopoulou


On revelation, truth, the verbal and response-ability.

Despina Zacharopoulou is a practice-based PhD student in Fine Art (performance) at the Royal College of Art, supervised by Professor Johnny Golding and Professor Nigel Rolfe, and supported by the Onassis Foundation Scholarship for Research Studies. Despina’s lecture in the context of the SU Academic lectures series, will be an attempt to raise questions concerning parrhēsia (παρρησία in ancient greek) in her artistic practice and research while also referencing philosophers such as: Plato, F.Nietzsche, M.Foucault, Prof. J.Golding, among others, The notion of parrhēsia will be approached mainly as viewed in M.Foucault’s lecture series entitled: The courage of The Truth, and which was indicated to Despina by Prof. J.Golding. Despina’s lecture will discuss about the ways in which parrhēsia is manifested in her performance practice and research, and how this notion of parrhēsia might be connected with the physical, the verbal, the visceral, revelation and response-ability.

Wednesday 28th February – Gorvy Lecture Theatre – 6.30pm

Melanie King 

Accompanied by Louise Beer and Rebecca Huxley, fellow co-directors of Lumen Studios.

Ancient Light

Melanie King is an artist and curator with a specific focus on astronomy. Melanie is currently studying towards a practice based MPhil in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art.

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.

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.


Lumen is an art collective, focused on themes of astronomy and light, regularly exhibiting in churches as well as galleries.
Through art, exhibitions and seminars Lumen aim to raise a dialogue about how humanity understands existence.

Recent projects include the “School of Light” exhibition at Ugly Duck in February 2017,  the “Aries on the Horizon” commission by the British Science Association, Print the Moon events with astronomer Paul Hill and Polaroid Originals, Ivana Kupala Celebration at Phytology Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, projections at Blue Dot Festival, and an eclipse themed commission for Green Man Festival. Lumen run an annual residency to Atina in Italy, where visitors are able to visit local observatories and observe the Perseid Meteor shower. Lumen run a gallery space based in the crypt of St John on Bethnal Green, which has hosted a number of exhibitions related to artistic explorations of science, astronomy and light.


Wednesday 14th March – Gorvy Lecture Theatre – 6.30pm

Juliette Blightman

Year of the Dog

It isn’t everyone who can indulge in the luxury of a ghost to reveal them. And in this present time, none of us are sure of what that ghost might reveal. The development of technology has not only changed the quality of the image but also how we see, and how we access knowledge. The camera now fits into a pocket, is often in hand, and connected to the internet, to friends and family’s lives, people we have never even met, feeding us a constant stream of other information, interiors, exteriors, sounds, opinions and messages and not just what we might be seeing or thinking of at that moment, an overload of informations.


If you would like to sign up to deliver a lecture next term, please contact