[ISEA2020] Artist Statement: Alison Humphrey — Shadowpox: Citizen Science Fiction

Artist Statement

In a world plagued by a deadly new disease composed of viral shadows, young, healthy volunteers across the globe step forward to test a breakthrough vaccine. Using motion-tracked generative effects projection-mapped on the body, the Shadowpox storyworld re-imagines immunity as an acquired superpower, but one whose bearers are framed as villains as often as they’re hailed as heroes. This research-creation doctoral project explores how a participatory science fiction storyworld can help young people build scientific, civic and media literacy by exploring immunization and vaccine hesitancy through a networked superhero narrative.
The project’s first phase, a full-body videogame for gallery installation titled Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic, debuted during the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva, where The Lancet called it “one of the most powerful and playful ways to illustrate both the individual and population-level implications of community immunity.” With the advent of COVID-19, the team created a new, online version of the game, Shadowpox: #StayHome Edition, shifting the focal decision from vaccination to physical distancing.
This artwork is available to experience online. To view the work: shadowpox.org/game

  • Alison Humphrey is a doctoral Vanier Scholar in Cinema and Media Arts at York University, Toronto, Canada. Alison plays with story across drama, digital media, and education. After starting as an intern at Marvel Comics, her career has included producing a pioneering alternate reality game for Douglas Adams, writing transmedia television, and directing Shakespeare and live-mocapped interactive theatre. alisonhumphrey.com