<i>Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic</i> – Thoughts and Reflections


  • Alison Humphrey York University
  • Caitlin Fisher York University
  • Steven J. Hoffman York University




interactive installation, community immunity, vaccine hesitancy, research-creation, interdisciplinary collaboration


This dialogic exchange discusses the development and outcomes of an interactive installation that uses live-animated digital effects to projection-map viral “shadowpox” onto the player’s body. The project was developed by Alison Humphrey, then a Vanier Scholar and York University PhD candidate in cinema and media studies, in collaboration with Caitlin Fisher, director of York University’s Immersive Storytelling Lab, and Steven J. Hoffman, director of the Global Strategy Lab and scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population and Public Health, with support from technical director and creative coder LaLaine Ulit-Destajo, epidemiologist Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, and website programmer Sean Sollé, as part of the three-year interdisciplinary project <Immune Nations>, and culminated with an exhibition at UNAIDS during the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Author Biographies

Alison Humphrey, York University

Alison Humphrey plays with story across drama, digital media, and education. After starting her career as an intern at Marvel Comics, she joined science fiction author Douglas Adams’s company The Digital Village, producing one of the first ever web-based alternate reality games for Starship Titanic, whose community-created storyworld has continued to evolve for nearly two decades, as featured in a 2011 article in The Economist, “Emergent Systems: The Forum at the End of the Universe.” She wrote on 115 episodes of Global TV’s Train 48, initiating one of the earliest transmedia in-fiction blogs in a TV series; assistant directed at the Royal Court Theatre, English Touring Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival; directed at the Old Red Lion Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company Fringe Festival; and most recently co-wrote and directed two interactive, live-animated sci-fi theatre projects: Faster than Night, for Harbourfront Centre HATCH in Toronto, and The Augmentalist for Augmented World Expo in Silicon Valley. Alison earned a BA in American studies and studio art from Wellesley College, an MA in interactive multimedia from the Royal College of Art, and an MFA in theatre directing from York University, where her thesis production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream used motion-capture technology to weave real-time 3D computer animation and digital effects into live performance. Shadowpox (shadowpox.org) forms part of her research-creation PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at York University, where she is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar.

Caitlin Fisher, York University

Caitlin Fisher directs both the Immersive Storytelling Lab at AMPD@Cinespace Studios and the Augmented Reality Lab at York University where she held the Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture 2004-2014. A co-founder of York’s Future Cinema Lab and a 2013 Fulbright Research Chair, Fisher is the recipient of many international awards for digital storytelling. She serves on the international Board of Directors for HASTAC, the Humanities Arts Science Alliance and Collaboratory and as Vice-President of the Electronic Literature Organization. Her current SSHRC-funded project is Artificial Intelligence Storytelling. She is also Co-PI on a New Frontiers project investigating Immersive digital environments and indigenous knowledges: co-creation in virtual reality environments to advance artmaking, digital poetics and reconciliation.

Steven J. Hoffman, York University

Steven J. Hoffman is the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology and a Professor of Global Health, Law, and Political Science at York University, the Director of the Global Strategy Lab, the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance, and the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He holds courtesy appointments as a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Part-Time) at McMaster University and as an Adjunct Professor of Global Health & Population at Harvard University. He is an international lawyer licensed in both Ontario and New York who specializes in global health law, global governance and institutional design. His research leverages various methodological approaches to craft global strategies that better address transnational health threats and social inequalities. Past studies have focused on access to medicines, antimicrobial resistance, health misinformation, pandemics and tobacco control.




How to Cite

Humphrey, A., Fisher, C., & Hoffman, S. J. (2020). <i>Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic</i> – Thoughts and Reflections. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 11(2), 99–114. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.IN.11.2.7