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11 March 2022

Immersive experience designer Rob Morgan joins King's as Visiting Fellow

Immersive experience designer and digital dramaturge Rob Morgan is joining the university to develop and expand upon his pioneering work in location-based digital narratives, with a particular focus on the historic Strand-Aldwych area around King's.

Image shows an areal shot of the Srand Aldwych area in central London
(c) Westminster City Council
Image shows Robert Morgan wearing a face mask and standing in front of the National Gallery X studio in central London.

Location-based technology is rapidly adding a layer of digital information to public spaces. But what new kinds of stories can be told in these new digital dimensions of our neighbourhoods? Can location-based digital media connect us to the communities and histories of the places we navigate? And what happens when Pokémon Go meets poetry, heritage and civic infrastructure?

For more than ten years Rob has been writing narratives and designing experiences across Immersive Theatre, VR, AR, Mixed and Extended Realities, the Metaverse and a host of other buzzword-rich new media. A lifelong student of literature, Rob's work focuses on narrative and the new relationships between author, audience and text that new immersive formats can enable. As Creative Director of the AR design studio Playlines, he's helped to write and design AR experiences for some of the world's largest licenses and cultural institutions.

Drawing on experiences from his studio's 2020 residency at National Gallery X (a partnership between The National Gallery and King's College London), and his 2021 King's Artist residency, Rob's fellowship at King's will allow him to develop a multidisciplinary study of how people can digitally inscribe, archive and experience public space.

I'm excited to be joining King's as a Visiting Fellow. Whether or not we're aware of it, the physical world around us is becoming more and more dense with digital, contextual information. In location-based digital layers, public places are becoming spaces for debate, for art, for gameplay and for new kinds of social infrastructure. My whole career so far has been about working out how to make effective, emotive stories within brand-new media and artforms. Now, I'm going to study what happens when digital narratives become part of a place, and place itself becomes a digital medium.

Rob Morgan, Visiting Fellow at King’s College London and Playlines Creative Director

As part of the Strand-Aldwych pedestrianisation, a project led by Westminster City Council with King’s as one of the key partners, Rob will have an unprecedented opportunity to be part of one of the most ambitious re-imaginings of civic space in London's history.

With the extraordinary opportunity of the Strand-Aldwych pedestrianisation project on the horizon, it’s very timely to have the Rob joining King’s as Visiting Fellow, opening up new and innovative ways of engaging communities with King’s research and learning. Rob will bring a new digital perspective to the university, and working with academics, students and staff to provide a permeable research portal for the future.

Alison Duthie, Director Culture (Programmes) at King’s College London

Rob will be based in the Culture team, working closely with Strandlines and with the Departments of Liberal Arts, History and Digital Humanities in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities. The initial goals are to research and prototype different approaches for populating real spaces with rich contextual media, showcase the value of digitally-augmented spaces, and begin to explore their ethics and potential social impacts. Rob's study will contribute to the understanding of how digital 'spatio-narrative' works and help create a blueprint for 'digital place-making'.

It is really exciting to have Rob joining our growing community of digital creative experts at King’s. His work has already given XR industry opportunities to King’s students and I’m curious to see the hybrid digital-physical ways of creating and consuming stories that will evolve through this new collaboration.

Graeme Earl, Professor of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and Co-Director National Gallery X

Get in touch

Rob is looking for King's students and researchers with an interest in these topics to help develop the study and contribute to the understanding of location-based technologies, digital storytelling in the real world, and ultimately the "metaverse". Key questions he'll be considering in the study:

  • How might ambient layers of contextual digital information affect how public space is designed and used?
  • What are some principles of design for digital narratives that we 'read' by exploring real spaces?
  • How can a place's history, present and future be digitally archived as part of that place's digital dimension - and how do we design those archiving tools to be future-proof?

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