Imagining Co-Immunity in <i>Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic</i>


  • Alison Humphrey York University



interactive installation, research-creation, immunization decisions, community immunity, art-as-education, art and politics


Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic is a game-based interactive installation that renders visible the forces our immunization decisions exert not just on our personal health but on the health of others. Part fact, part science fantasy, this full-body video game combines real-world statistical data with motion-tracking, live-animated digital effects to imagine a vaccine-preventable disease composed of viral shadows. The author explains how her initial design choices were rooted in a widespread misunderstanding: that our vaccination decisions have purely individual and private consequences. Once she became aware of her own blind spot, the game’s design, and the wider Shadowpox science fiction storyworld of which it was a part, came into focus, framing community immunity as a metaphor for the power we each have to make choices that will have a destructive or constructive effect on the world around us.

Author Biography

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 ( forms part of her research-creation PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at York University, where she is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar.




How to Cite

Humphrey, A. (2020). Imagining Co-Immunity in <i>Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic</i>. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 11(2), 155–191.