Analysing virtual landscapes using postmemory

Phil Jones*, Tess Osborne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Virtual environments are becoming ubiquitous, designed to do work in the material world. They are used within urban design, medicine, the military, entertainment and a wide range of other sectors, having increasing significance within our everyday lives. Virtual landscapes are brought into being through the interaction of users and these virtual environments. In this paper, we propose the use of postmemory as a framework for analysing virtual landscapes. Postmemories, formed of second-hand accounts combined with the imagination of individuals, can shape our responses to the world around us, having similar affective force to memories of situations directly witnessed. Twenty-five participants were asked to undertake an exploration exercise within a virtual recreation of 19th century London and subsequently interviewed about their landscape experiences. Individual position and imagination had a significant effect on participants’ understanding of those landscapes, creating postmemories of the material environment being represented, going beyond the intent of the designers. Given the forceful affective qualities of postmemory, however, the balance of power between designer intent and user imagination is demonstrated to be problematic, as individuals are manipulated through their exposure to, and co-creation of, these virtual landscapes.
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)186-206
Number of pages21
JournalSocial & Cultural Geography
Issue number2
Early online date22-May-2018
Publication statusPublished - 12-Feb-2020
Externally publishedYes

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