Mr Jack Lowe

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Personal profile

I’m a cultural geographer whose research engages with various forms of digital media art to investigate the processes through which places become meaningful.

My practice-based PhD project, supervised between Geography and Media Arts, will involve making a location-based game in my home city of Canterbury as a method of understanding this medium’s potential to enable people to tell, and learn about, the stories that make places meaningful. This will invoke the gameplay of Geocaching, a popular GPS-enabled treasure hunting game played worldwide. I’ll be exploring how the format of a digital treasure hunt might be adapted to incorporate and encompass the wide-ranging narratives that make Canterbury the city that is experienced today.

In parallel with my PhD research, I have a longstanding interest in the cultural geographies of video game environments; in particular how a sense of place can be crafted in their hybrid virtual landscapes. I’m interested in how post-phenomenology might provide theoretical frameworks through which we can apprehend the relationships between different kinds of materials, bodies and social contexts in the production of experiences, such as feeling ‘a sense of place’ or 'attunement' with landscapes.

These research interests stem back to a broader fascination with psychogeography; and particularly how different kinds of practices could engage with given elements of a place’s cultural significance. To me, this is a creative challenge as well as an academic one – hence why I’ve long been interested in academic work that builds bridges between disciplines and explores creative methods of inquiry.

Alongside my research responsibilities, I am editor of the Social, Cultural and Historical Geographies (SCHG) Research Group's Landscape Surgery blog, the public-facing website for presenting research within the SCHG and for recounting the group's fortnightly Landscape Surgery sessions for human geographers. I am also a Postgraduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), playing a particularly active role in the Digital Geographies Research Group (DGRG), through which I have organised two sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, and am organising a symposium on Digital Games and VR taking place this summer. As part of my interdisciplinary activities at RHUL, I am part of the StoryFutures Creative Cluster network, acting as a consultant for SMEs by sharing insights on incorporating location and environment into digital narrative experiences, and also helping to manage the network's social media presence. Elsewhere, I am a member of the Association for Research on Digital Interactive Narratives (ARDIN) and an associate of TECHNE, the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership of which Royal Holloway is part.

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