Mr Jack Lowe

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Personal profile

I’m a cultural geographer and Visiting Lecturer in Digital Storytelling at Royal Holloway. My research investigates how people engage with place through various forms of digital media art.

My practice-based PhD project, supervised between Geography and Media Arts, involves independently making and testing location-based games in my home district of Canterbury and more widely in East Kent. This method seeks to understand the potential of location-based game development and play for discovering, sharing and engaging purposefully with the wide-ranging narratives through which this area is imagined, lived, performed and contested today. Creative works have included The Timekeeper's Return, a mixed-reality treasure hunt in Canterbury's Cathedral Quarter played using QR codes; Canterbury in 3 Words, a participatory storytelling platform and location-based treasure hunt played using the What3Words app; and The Gates to Dreamland, a locative audiowalk game based around Margate's Dreamland amusement park, made as part of A Different LENS (a collaborative story-mapping project funded by Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Margate NOW).

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 physical and digitally-rendered 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 game experiences, such as feeling ‘a sense of place’ or 'attunement' with their associated landscapes.

These research interests stem back to a broader fascination with psychogeography, particularly how different kinds of practices might engage with 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 research that bridges between disciplines, reaches beyond the academy, and explores creative methods of inquiry.

Alongside my research responsibilities, I am currently teaching as a visiting lecturer on the Digital Storytelling core module for first-year BA Digital Media Communications and BA Videogame Art and Design students at Royal Holloway. This academic year I also have a further teaching role at Royal Holloway as a workshop leader on Ethnography for Masters students on the GG5020: Methods and Techniques course, while last year I taught as a teaching assistant on Geographical Techniques for Geography undergraduates. I recently passed RHUL's Programme in Skills of Teaching to Inspire Learning (inSTIL) programme with a commendation, conferring Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

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 place and environment in digital narrative experiences, and also helping to manage the network's social media presence. Elsewhere, I am a member of Royal Holloway's Centre for the GeoHumanities, and I'm also an associate of TECHNE, the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership of which Royal Holloway is part. Within Geography specifically, I was previously 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. 

Outside of Royal Holloway, I am Postgraduate Representative on the committee of the Digital Geographies Research Group (DGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), where I am also a Postgraduate Fellow. With the DGRG, I have organised two sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference in 2018 and 2019, as well as a sponsored session at the online RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-term Conference in 2021 and a symposium on Digital Games and VR in July 2019. I am also a member of the Association for Research on Interactive Digital Narratives (ARDIN). Alongside research group membership and activities, I have contributed to research communities by peer reviewing for the Digital Geography and Society journal and the Urban Planning journal.

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