Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.IN.11.2.10 | PDF


The Anti­body Politic Ali­son Humphrey

Imagining Co-Immunity in Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic

Ali­son Humphrey

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.

Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic est une instal­la­tion inter­ac­tive basée sur un jeu qui rend vis­i­ble les forces que nos déci­sions de vac­ci­na­tion exer­cent non seule­ment sur notre san­té per­son­nelle, mais sur la san­té des autres. Moitié réal­ité, moitié fan­taisie sci­en­tifique, ce jeu vidéo sur tout le corps com­bine des don­nées sta­tis­tiques du monde réel avec des effets numériques ani­més de suivi de mou­ve­ment pour imag­in­er une mal­adie évitable par la vac­ci­na­tion com­posée d'ombres virales. L'auteur explique com­ment ses choix de con­cep­tion ini­ti­aux étaient enrac­inés dans un malen­ten­du général­isé: l'idée que nos déci­sions de vac­ci­na­tion ont des con­séquences pure­ment indi­vidu­elles et privées. Une fois qu'elle a pris con­science de son pro­pre angle mort, la con­cep­tion du jeu et le monde de la sci­ence-fic­tion Shad­ow­pox plus large dont il fai­sait par­tie ont été mis au point, mon­trant l'immunité com­mu­nau­taire comme une métaphore du pou­voir que nous avons cha­cun de faire des choix qui auront un effet destruc­teur ou con­struc­tif sur le monde qui nous entoure.


… imag­ine the action of a vac­cine not just in terms of how it affects a sin­gle body, but also in terms of how it affects the col­lec­tive body of a community…”
—Eula Biss, On Immu­ni­ty: An Inoculation

If the semi­otic axis around which every social insti­tu­tion is con­sti­tut­ed lies in the bound­ary between self and other—between us and them—what con­sti­tutes both its inter­pre­tive key and effec­tive out­come bet­ter than the prin­ci­ple of immunity?”
—Rober­to Espos­i­to, Immu­ni­tas: The Pro­tec­tion and Nega­tion of Life

A virus is invis­i­ble. While Robert Koch pub­lished the first light-micro­scope draw­ings and pho­tographs of bac­te­ria in 1877, viruses—over 100 times small­er than bacteria—were not visu­al­ized until the 1930s advent of the elec­tron micro­scope. Nor can we see immu­ni­ty to a virus, except as abstract absence: I’ll nev­er know that my Octo­ber flu shot saved me a week of mis­ery in March. I bear no sign to oth­ers that I’ve even cho­sen to be vac­ci­nat­ed, in con­trast to bygone days when small­pox inoc­u­la­tion left a dis­tinc­tive scar (Fig­ure 1) that served as a domes­tic pass­port in times of quar­an­tine (Bliss 20), a “gov­ern­ment-cer­ti­fied tick­et of immu­ni­ty […] stamped indeli­bly on the body […] a well-defined sign [that] can­not be forged” (Will­rich 227).

Fig­ure 1: Fold­out colour plate show­ing vac­ci­na­tion scars. Well­come Col­lec­tion., Attri­bu­tion 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al (CC BY 4.0). https://​well​comecol​lec​tion​.org/​w​o​r​k​s​/​h​y​j​x​g​xax

But of all these invis­i­bil­i­ties, per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant is the impact that our own vac­ci­na­tion choic­es have on those around us. If I forego that flu shot, there’s a van­ish­ing­ly small chance—but still a chance—that I might catch the virus, pass it along unawares, and become indi­rect­ly respon­si­ble for a fatal ill­ness in a nurs­ing home, or for the death of a tod­dler (How­ells). I will almost nev­er see that my deci­sion affect­ed any­one oth­er than myself.

Gilles Deleuze argues that, “In art, and in paint­ing as in music, it is not a mat­ter of repro­duc­ing or invent­ing forms, but of cap­tur­ing forces […] The task of paint­ing is defined as the attempt to ren­der vis­i­ble forces that are not them­selves vis­i­ble” (56). Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic is a game-based inter­ac­tive instal­la­tion that ren­ders vis­i­ble the forces that 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 inter­ac­tive “shad­ow­pox” virus is pro­ject­ed not only on the dig­i­tal avatar that mir­rors the player’s move­ments on-screen, but also on the player’s own body, and on the mem­bers of the 100-strong ani­mat­ed pop­u­la­tion of which that avatar is a part. As the play­er fights the dis­ease, mov­ing their hands to expel the pox from their body, they dis­cov­er that each hand­ful of virus they shed has the poten­tial to infect their 99 neigh­bours. The odds of infect­ing these ani­mat­ed sprites are based on real-life sta­tis­tics, and the player’s score mounts with each vic­tim. The goal of this mixed-real­i­ty immer­sion is to inten­si­fy emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal affect, and height­en the gallery visitor’s sense of con­nec­tion and consequence.

At the end of the game, a cod­ed web link leads play­ers online to meet their unique “Infec­tion Col­lec­tion” or “Pro­tec­tion Col­lec­tion.” Here, the abstract sta­tis­tic of their score is trans­lat­ed into a series of 99 indi­vid­ual trad­ing cards sport­ing quirky pic­togram and text por­traits. Under this macro­scope, seem­ing­ly pri­vate choic­es are revealed to have pub­lic rever­ber­a­tions, while pop­u­la­tion-lev­el health sta­tis­tics are bro­ken down into their com­po­nent parts: five-score indi­vid­ual yet inter­con­nect­ed human sto­ries. The affec­tive arc of the game traces a con­nec­tion from the per­son­al to the polit­i­cal and back again.

Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic was cre­at­ed for <Immune Nations>, described on its web­site as “a spec­u­la­tive exhi­bi­tion about the con­struc­tive role that art can play in glob­al polit­i­cal dis­course around life-sav­ing vac­cines.” I was a last-minute addi­tion to the three-year inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project at its inau­gur­al work­shop in August 2015, weeks before begin­ning my PhD at York Uni­ver­si­ty. It proved a serendip­i­tous chance to col­lab­o­rate on an incar­na­tion of the sci­ence fic­tion sto­ry­world Shad­ow­pox, the core of my research-cre­ation dis­ser­ta­tion, co-cre­at­ed with youth on three con­ti­nents to mark the cen­te­nary of the 1918-19 influen­za pandemic.

As the first chap­ter in this wider Shad­ow­pox sto­ry­world, The Anti­body Politic was cre­at­ed by a team includ­ing York University’s Immer­sive Sto­ry­telling Lab direc­tor Caitlin Fish­er and Glob­al Strat­e­gy Lab direc­tor Steven Hoff­man; tech­ni­cal direc­tor and cre­ative coder Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo; epi­demi­ol­o­gist Susan Rogers Van Katwyk; and web­site pro­gram­mer Sean Sollé.

The first part of this essay describes the game as it was exhib­it­ed in Trond­heim, Nor­way, in March 2017, and Gene­va, Switzer­land, in May 2017. The sec­ond part inves­ti­gates the the­o­ry and devel­op­ment process behind it, par­tic­u­lar­ly my own real­iza­tion that my ini­tial design choic­es reflect­ed a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing: that our vac­ci­na­tion deci­sions are pure­ly indi­vid­ual and pri­vate. The process of design­ing the game led me to iden­ti­fy the pur­pose of the Shad­ow­pox sto­ry­world: to expand our civic imag­i­na­tion. In the game as in the wider fic­tion, com­mu­ni­ty immu­ni­ty becomes a metaphor for the pow­er we each have to make choic­es that will have a destruc­tive or con­struc­tive effect on the peo­ple and the world around us.

A Trivalent Vaccination Game

Imag­ine you are stand­ing in the soar­ing, glass-walled lob­by of the UNAIDS build­ing in Gene­va. Before you is a square, light-grey tent (the sun­light stream­ing through those soar­ing glass walls is not ide­al for infrared track­ing). Even before you step inside, you see rear-pro­ject­ed on the tent walls a pun­ning, recom­bi­nant title ani­ma­tion that teas­es the three phas­es of the game (Fig­ure 2).

Fig­ure 2: Ali­son Humphrey, Pox On Me, Pox On ’Em, Poxé­mon, 2017. Title ani­ma­tion stills. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

This is how you play:

Phase 1: Pox on Me—The Individual’s Choice

In which fear and courage incar­nate, as the pathogen is pro­ject­ed onto the player’s own body.

You enter the play­ing area and stand fac­ing one screen, with your back to anoth­er. A Microsoft Kinect sen­sor above the front screen detects your move­ments, giv­ing you con­trol over a real-time ani­mat­ed avatar. Two oppos­ing pro­jec­tors shine this avatar onto the front screen, and in reverse, onto your own body (Fig­ure 3).

Fig­ure 3: Shad­ow­pox play­er at the <Immune Nations> exhi­bi­tion open­ing, UNAIDS, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

The Kinect bounces infrared light off the play­er, track­ing the posi­tion of key skele­ton joints (Fig­ure 4). Tech­ni­cal direc­tor Lalaine Ulit-Destajo’s 2000+ lines of open­Frame­works code (Fig­ure 5) draws cir­cles and rec­tan­gles around those points to build a sim­ple avatar (Fig­ure 6). The avatar’s ges­tures are recal­cu­lat­ed 120 times per sec­ond, so fast that the play­er feels like they are look­ing at them­selves in a black-and-white pic­togram mir­ror (Fig­ure 7).

Fig­ure 4: Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo, Mag­gie the Man­nequin, and Ali­son Humphrey cal­i­brat­ing pro­jec­tor with Kinect skele­ton track­ing, 2016. Pho­to by Wes­ley Moir.
Fig­ure 5: Cod­ing in open­Frame­works for real-time avatar ani­ma­tion, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.
Fig­ure 6: Half-fin­ished pic­togram avatar with tor­so and joints, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.
Fig­ure 7: Final pic­togram avatar in action among 99 neigh­bours, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

The visu­al lan­guage of the game is inspired by the design and spir­it of ISOTYPE, the Inter­na­tion­al Sys­tem of Typo­graph­ic Pic­ture Edu­ca­tion devel­oped by Aus­tri­an soci­ol­o­gist Otto Neu­rath between the world wars. Vos­soughi­an explains that ISOTYPE’s ele­men­tary info­graph­ic lan­guage (Figs. 8a, 8b) was designed to “make sta­tis­ti­cal data leg­i­ble and acces­si­ble to non-spe­cial­ized mass audi­ences,” and to encour­age peo­ple to “think of them­selves and the world around them in terms of pat­terns, rela­tion­ships and sys­tems of orga­ni­za­tion” (79). Neurath’s ear­li­est exhib­it, at the 1925 Vien­na Hygiene Exhi­bi­tion, fea­tured a dia­gram demon­strat­ing that “the small­er the income-lev­el of a group of peo­ple, the high­er the like­li­hood that tuber­cu­lo­sis will sick­en and kill” (Vos­soughi­an 79). Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic is sim­i­lar­ly designed to enable play­ers to think of their own actions as part of a wider pat­tern of com­mu­ni­ty relationships.

Fig­ure 8a. Otto Neu­rath, Great War 1914-18, Pub­lished in a trav­el­ing, fold­ing pre­sen­ta­tion port­fo­lio for the Mun­danaeum in Lon­don, 1930s. Image cour­tesy of Otto and Marie Neu­rath Iso­type Col­lec­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Reading.
Fig­ure 8b. Otto Neu­rath, Tuber­cu­lo­sis spreads in the house­hold, 1938. Chart from the ‘Fight­ing Tuber­cu­lo­sis’ exhi­bi­tion pro­duced for The Nation­al Tuber­cu­lo­sis Asso­ci­a­tion in the USA. Image cour­tesy of Otto and Marie Neu­rath Iso­type Col­lec­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Reading.

The Shad­ow­pox game begins with two choic­es that deter­mine how your actions will affect the world around you. An arrow-cur­sor appears over your avatar’s right hand. You ges­ture at a map to choose which of 193 coun­tries your avatar hails from. The game shows you the “shad­ow­pox vac­ci­na­tion rate” in that coun­try, derived from real-world sta­tis­tics (see next sec­tion, below). Your sec­ond choice is whether to “Get the Vac­cine” or “Risk the Virus” (Fig­ure 9). Depend­ing on your choice, your country’s vac­ci­na­tion rate climbs or falls by 1%.

Fig­ure 9: Ali­son Humphrey, Vaccine/Virus choice screen with vac­ci­na­tion rate, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

If you choose to risk the virus, the game informs you that you have caught the dis­ease, and that in the process of fight­ing it, you risk pass­ing it along to oth­ers. Your “infec­tion score” tracks the num­ber of peo­ple who catch the virus from you. On the oth­er hand, if you choose the vac­cine, the game explains that you now have the chance to prac­tice fight­ing a weak­ened form of the dis­ease with­out the risk of infect­ing oth­ers. Your “pro­tec­tion score” is the num­ber of peo­ple you would have infect­ed, had you been fight­ing the actu­al dis­ease rather than rehears­ing with the vac­cine. After a brief expla­na­tion of how to fight the dis­ease by mov­ing your hands to push the small, round, shad­owy pox off your body (Fig­ure 10), the game begins.

Fig­ure 10: Ali­son Humphrey, Shad­ow­pox game instruc­tions sig­nage, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Phase 2: Pox on ’Em—The Community Impact

In which risk and the indi­vid­ual immu­niza­tion deci­sion are cast in a wider light, as the play­er sees the pow­er they have to pro­tect or infect 99 oth­ers around them.

Under­ly­ing the game is a real-world pop­u­la­tion-lev­el sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el, a pow­er­ful reminder that coun­tries have dif­fer­ent lev­els of resilience in deal­ing with vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­ease. The mod­el was cre­at­ed by epi­demi­ol­o­gist Susan Rogers Van Katwyk and Steven Hoff­man, sci­en­tif­ic direc­tor of the Cana­di­an Insti­tutes of Health Research Insti­tute of Pop­u­la­tion and Pub­lic Health. As you fight the dis­ease, throw­ing pox off your body, some of the virus will come in con­tact with one of the 99 oth­er peo­ple around you. The odds of your neigh­bour becom­ing infect­ed depend on your choice of coun­try at the begin­ning of the game—not sim­ply on its shad­ow­pox vac­ci­na­tion rate, but a more com­plex cal­cu­la­tion that reflects struc­tur­al inequal­i­ties between nations.1

Rogers Van Katwyk explains,

Each country’s fic­tion­al max­i­mum sever­i­ty score—how severe a shad­ow­pox out­break could be at 0% vaccination—was cal­cu­lat­ed start­ing by rank­ing every coun­try against each oth­er by edu­ca­tion, wealth and health, based on real-world sta­tis­tics for:

- Aver­age Years of Edu­ca­tion for Women,
- Gross Domes­tic Prod­uct per capi­ta (pur­chas­ing pow­er par­i­ty), and
- Health Expen­di­ture as a per­cent­age of GDP.

We used a sim­ple equa­tion to com­bine these three fac­tors into a score, and sub­tract­ed from 100% to cre­ate the max­i­mum sever­i­ty score. So, for exam­ple, the worst pos­si­ble out­break in Afghanistan is 95% while the worst pos­si­ble out­break in New Zealand is 78.6%. We also cal­cu­lat­ed a start­ing vac­ci­na­tion rate, the start­ing point from which people’s deci­sions increase or decrease the vac­ci­na­tion rate. To make this a semi-real­is­tic illus­tra­tion, we bor­rowed the measles vac­ci­na­tion rates from 1997, and divid­ed them in half. (The 1997 rates for measles vac­ci­na­tion reflect sev­er­al decades of pub­lic health efforts, so we imag­ined a nov­el dis­ease like shad­ow­pox would not yet have reached such high lev­els of coverage.)”

Fig­ure 11: Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, Shad­ow­pox sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el spread­sheet, 2017.

Each play­er who choos­es not to vac­ci­nate will reduce the rate by 1%. These changes mir­ror the real world by per­sist­ing through­out the exhi­bi­tion. For exam­ple, when First Lady of Namib­ia Mon­i­ca Gein­gos chose her home coun­try (Fig­ure 12), the shad­ow­pox vac­ci­na­tion rate was 55%. Since she chose to vac­ci­nate her­self, the rate rose to 56%, and the next per­son to play for Namib­ia would start with that num­ber. Each increase in the vac­ci­na­tion rate caus­es a decrease in the sever­i­ty score. So, for exam­ple, when Canada’s Min­is­ter of Health Jane Philpott played the game, she raised her country’s shad­ow­pox vac­ci­na­tion rate by 1%, there­by decreas­ing Canada’s sever­i­ty score by 0.957 and mak­ing her com­mu­ni­ty less sus­cep­ti­ble to infection.

Fig­ure 12: First Lady of Namib­ia Mon­i­ca Gein­gos plays Shad­ow­pox at the <Immune Nations> open­ing, May 23, 2017. Pho­to by Steven Hoffman.

Rogers Van Katwyk adds, “We decid­ed that the vac­ci­na­tion thresh­old for shad­ow­pox herd immu­ni­ty was 80%”—for polio it’s 80 to 85%, for measles 95%—“so any increas­es in vac­ci­na­tion rate above 80% won’t make a change in dis­ease sever­i­ty.” The final ingre­di­ent in the sta­tis­ti­cal recipe was the case fatal­i­ty rate. When I asked Hoff­man to sug­gest a rea­son­able rate for shad­ow­pox, he answered, “Ebo­la was an aver­age of 50%. Small­pox was 30%. Depends on how dra­mat­ic you want to be!” While I was con­cerned not to over-dra­ma­tize, as a drama­tist I know it’s pos­si­ble to under-dra­ma­tize as well. Play­ers have more fun when their actions have high stakes.

Fig­ure 13: Ali­son Humphrey, Healthy, sick and dead neigh­bours, 2017. The healthy and sick fig­ures are stills from ani­mat­ed loops by Geof­frey Cramm; the dead fig­ure is a pic­togram by Lere­my Gan.

In the end, we set­tled on a fixed case fatal­i­ty rate of 20%, draw­ing again on real-world sta­tis­tics from measles, whose rate is 0.2% in the Unit­ed States, but up to 25% in some devel­op­ing coun­tries. I thought per­haps we should make this a vari­able too, but Rogers Van Katwyk explained that there was no need to vary the case fatal­i­ty rate giv­en that the sever­i­ty rate already var­ied by coun­try. As a sta­tis­tics neo­phyte, I remained con­fused despite her expla­na­tions (and still slight­ly con­cerned about over­dra­ma­tiz­ing), but I went with the fixed rate out of respect for her exper­tise. Cross-dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion requires a will­ing­ness to ask what feel like stu­pid ques­tions, and when good answers still go over one’s head, it requires respect for and trust in oth­ers’ exper­tise. This kind of trust in experts is a crux of vac­cine con­fi­dence, as well—its ero­sion can lead to hes­i­tan­cy, denial­ism, and, in extreme cas­es, con­spir­a­cy theories.

Phase 3: Poxémon—Faces in the Crowd

In which the player’s final score is unpacked into an online “Infec­tion Col­lec­tion” or “Pro­tec­tion Col­lec­tion,” a com­mu­ni­ty com­posed of unique individuals.

At the end of the game, you are giv­en a final score rep­re­sent­ing the num­ber of peo­ple you infect­ed, and the num­ber of these who died (or the num­ber you pro­tect­ed from those fates, if you chose the vac­cine). This score is trans­lat­ed into a three-let­ter code, which you write on a card to com­plete its web link: “shad​ow​pox​.org/__ __ __.”

When you vis­it the Poxé­mon web­site, abstract sta­tis­tics trans­form into sin­gu­lar humans. Where­as in the game, the peo­ple in your com­mu­ni­ty are with­out names or any oth­er dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures, once you ven­ture online, this iden­ti­cal pop­u­la­tion blooms into indi­vid­u­al­i­ty. Slovic and Slovic attest to the dif­fi­cul­ty of mak­ing human dra­ma out of data: “Even the most math­e­mat­i­cal­ly gift­ed human beings are psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly lim­it­ed when it comes to attach­ing feel­ing to numer­i­cal infor­ma­tion” (7).

Your online “Infec­tion Col­lec­tion” or “Pro­tec­tion Col­lec­tion” riffs on the Poké­mon trad­ing card series, each vir­tu­al card depict­ing a sin­gle indi­vid­ual whose life you have touched—for bet­ter or worse—giving them a name, a “nano-sto­ry” writ­ten by Caitlin Fish­er, and a unique pic­togram designed by Lere­my Gan. (See shad​ow​pox​.org/​ZZZ for the full set of 99 cards.)

Fig­ure 14: Caitlin Fish­er (text) and Lere­my Gan (pic­togram), Poxé­mon card: Ima, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artists.

Ofri points out one strength pub­lic health can bor­row from the arts, while explain­ing the Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health’s deci­sion to name a new col­umn Chekhov’s Cor­ner, after a famous Russ­ian play­wright and doctor:

Pub­lic health, after all, deals with pop­u­la­tions; it eschews the indi­vid­ual except as it forms one of a group. The cre­ative arts, how­ev­er, deal almost exclu­sive­ly with indi­vid­u­als. Lit­er­a­ture, in par­tic­u­lar, always has a pro­tag­o­nist, and the pro­tag­o­nist is nev­er ‘Irish alco­holics with pan­cre­ati­tis,’ or ‘female pris­on­ers receiv­ing hepati­tis B vac­ci­na­tion’ […] A pro­tag­o­nist is an indi­vid­ual.” (205)

Indeed, many non-sci­en­tists feel uneasy with the over­tones of the term “herd immu­ni­ty,” the pro­por­tion of a com­mu­ni­ty that must be immu­nized to pro­tect against the spread of an infec­tious dis­ease. The phrase “com­mu­ni­ty immu­ni­ty” is begin­ning to replace it (I would sug­gest “co-immu­ni­ty” as a snap­pi­er sub­sti­tu­tion), and the rhyme points to the fact that the root word of both “immu­ni­ty” and “com­mu­ni­ty” is the Latin munus, mean­ing a duty or ser­vice per­formed for the group—and also, as in the word “munif­i­cent,” a gift.

From the indi­vid­ual (Pox on Me) to the com­mu­ni­ty (Pox on ’Em) and back to the indi­vid­ual (Poxé­mon), Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic uses game-play to make vis­i­ble the pub­lic con­se­quences of our pri­vate choic­es. This per­spec­tive came late in the devel­op­ment of the piece, how­ev­er. The next sec­tion explores the why behind the what: the the­o­ry behind the game’s design evolution.

As my doc­tor­al research employs a research-cre­ation method­ol­o­gy, I have a gen­er­al as well as a vac­cine-spe­cif­ic motive for think­ing about the rela­tion­ship between knowl­edge, pol­i­tics, and aes­thet­ics. Chap­man and Saw­chuk under­line the dif­fer­ence between art as “cre­ative pre­sen­ta­tion” of a pre­de­ter­mined mes­sage, and art as a process of inquiry (“cre­ation-as-research”); the lat­ter “places val­ue on the rela­tion­al qual­i­ties insti­gat­ed through mak­ing and high­lights how unex­pect­ed and even unknow­able its out­comes can be” (50). By lis­ten­ing to oth­ers and reflect­ing on the world­views inform­ing my design choic­es as I went, I dis­cov­ered a major per­son­al blind spot with regard to vac­ci­na­tion choice, which even­tu­al­ly enlarged the frame of the work, and prompt­ed some use­ful humil­i­ty and empa­thy as I sought ways to help play­ers reflect on their own role in a wider game.

Science and Sensibility

The <Immune Nations> web­site (www​.immune​na​tions​.com) asserts that “Art/creative research has the poten­tial to play an impor­tant role in help­ing to fos­ter a more nuanced dis­course around vac­cines by artic­u­lat­ing elu­sive or emo­tion­al­ly charged issues.” That’s a care­ful­ly word­ed mis­sion state­ment. It would be easy to assume when part of the pub­lic hes­i­tates to accept an evi­dence-based sci­en­tif­ic consensus—like cli­mate change, or the safe­ty and effi­ca­cy of vaccines—that the prob­lem is sim­ply a lack of facts. If that were true, artists would be reduced to the role of dec­o­ra­tors on a straight­for­ward edu­ca­tion out­reach effort. But as researchers increas­ing­ly call out the dan­gers of the “knowl­edge deficit mod­el” (Kit­ta and Gold­berg; Sobo et al.), it is becom­ing clear that artis­tic researchers have more to con­tribute than attrac­tive infographics.

Alain Badiou out­lines four frame­works that have been used to imag­ine the edu­ca­tion­al rela­tion­ship between the arts and phi­los­o­phy (for which we can read “sci­ence”). Didac­ti­cism, roman­ti­cism, and clas­si­cism are the first three schema­ta (5). In the didac­tic schema, art is seen as a “false truth,” but one that can still lend “the tran­si­to­ry force of sem­blance or of charm to a truth that is pre­scribed from out­side” (2) (an echo of Hegel’s belief that “art is what cheers and ani­mates the dull and with­ered dry­ness of the idea” [viii]). Badiou’s label “didac­tic” springs from this schema’s asser­tion that “the good essence of art is con­veyed in its pub­lic [i.e., edu­ca­tion­al] effect, and not in the art­work itself” (2). By con­trast, in the sec­ond schema, the roman­tic, “art alone is capa­ble of truth […] it is the real body of truth.” Instead of act­ing as an entic­ing vehi­cle for a philo­soph­i­cal truth, “Art deliv­ers us from the sub­jec­tive bar­ren­ness of the con­cept” alto­geth­er. It is not seen as the garnish—“it is incar­na­tion” (3).

Between the didac­tic and roman­tic schema­ta Badiou iden­ti­fies a third, the clas­si­cal, in which art is seen as “inno­cent of all truth. In oth­er words, it is inscribed in the imag­i­nary” (4). Here art is ruled not by real­ism, but by “‘verisimil­i­tude’ or ‘like­li­hood’” in con­trast with the “clas­si­cal def­i­n­i­tion of phi­los­o­phy: ‘The unlike­ly truth’” (4). There is a par­al­lel here with how our feel­ings and thoughts influ­ence our beliefs about vac­ci­na­tion. The idea that inject­ing inac­ti­vat­ed pathogens can improve health, rather than make us sick, is not just disgusting—it is coun­ter­in­tu­itive. Some sci­ence is stranger than fic­tion. By con­trast, with so many gen­uine episodes of cor­po­rate malfea­sance and gov­ern­ment cov­er-up in pop­u­lar mem­o­ry, it makes intu­itive sense to believe urban leg­ends of vac­cine skull­dug­gery. Such art­ful sto­ries, though they may be unsup­port­ed by sol­id evi­dence, have “verisimil­i­tude.” It is some­times eas­i­er to sus­pend our dis­be­lief for a “like­ly” sto­ry than for “unlike­ly” science.

Badiou con­cludes by posit­ing a fourth schema in which “art itself is a truth pro­ce­dure” that gen­er­ates “imma­nent” and “sin­gu­lar” truths—truths “inter­nal to the artis­tic effect of works of art,” and “giv­en nowhere else than in art” (9). In this schema, “Art is ped­a­gog­i­cal for the sim­ple rea­son that it pro­duces truths and because ‘edu­ca­tion’ (save in its oppres­sive or per­vert­ed expres­sions) has nev­er meant any­thing but this: to arrange the forms of knowl­edge in such a way that some truth may come to pierce a hole in them” (9). This is a breath­tak­ing­ly poet­ic image, even with­out dig­ging into Badiou’s very par­tic­u­lar def­i­n­i­tions of the trou­ble­some terms “truth pro­ce­dure,” “knowl­edge,” and “truth.” What Badiou means here by “edu­ca­tion” is not the didac­tic, where art is a vehi­cle for a mes­sage giv­en from outside—for exam­ple, by sci­ence. Rather, art is “the think­ing of the thought that it itself is” (14).

As men­tioned above, the mixed-real­i­ty game of Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic is part of a larg­er project that forms the core of my research-cre­ation doc­tor­al the­sis.2 Shad­ow­pox is an online sci­ence fic­tion sto­ry­world being co-cre­at­ed with young artists on three con­ti­nents. The first lab­o­ra­to­ry took place in June 2016 in Lon­don, and the project spread to North Amer­i­ca, Europe, and Africa for the cen­te­nary of the 1918-1919 influen­za pandemic.

Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo cre­at­ed the first gen­er­a­tion of the shad­ow­pox code in 2016, in prepa­ra­tion for a week-long work­shop with nine grad­u­at­ing third-year actors at the Roy­al Acad­e­my of Dra­mat­ic Art (RADA). Draw­ing data from the Kinect motion sen­sor into the open source C++ toolk­it open­Frame­works, the code gen­er­at­ed liv­ing, viral shad­ows that bud­ded, grew, and spread as they were pro­ject­ed across the actor’s body (Fig­ure 15). The actor could “grab” the pox and drag them off their body, fight­ing the dis­ease to keep it from engulf­ing them in shadow.

Fig­ure 15: Video stills from RADA Shad­ow­pox work­shop, 2016. Pho­to by Simon Eves.

Our fic­tion­al sce­nario for the work­shop was that the actors were vol­un­teers in a phase I tri­al of a new vac­cine can­di­date (dubbed toropox, in hon­our of cow­pox, the orig­i­nal and epony­mous vac­cine), being test­ed at the height of a shad­ow­pox epi­dem­ic. Our dra­mat­ic touch­stone was the fact that any­one who decides to become immunized—whether with a vac­cine can­di­date in a cut­ting-edge tri­al, or with a long-estab­lished vac­cine in a local clinic—is not just pro­tect­ing them­selves. Through co-immu­ni­ty, they are also com­mit­ting an act of hero­ism to ben­e­fit a wider community.

The group of actors spent the begin­ning of the week get­ting up to speed on the biol­o­gy and the soci­ol­o­gy of immu­niza­tion, explor­ing the fears that con­tribute to vac­cine hes­i­tan­cy (Fig­ure 16), and hear­ing from epi­demi­ol­o­gist Conall Wat­son of the neigh­bour­ing Lon­don School of Hygiene and Trop­i­cal Med­i­cine about his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the recent suc­cess­ful Ebo­la vac­cine tri­al in Guinea. For the next few days, each actor devised their own char­ac­ter back­sto­ry, and was inter­viewed on cam­era in-char­ac­ter, speak­ing about a loved one who had been touched by the dis­ease, and the sequence of events that had led them to vol­un­teer for the tri­al. We admin­is­tered the shad­ow­pox vac­cine and record­ed the results. Final­ly, we inter­viewed each actor out-of-char­ac­ter, explor­ing their thoughts on the dyads of light/shadow, individual/collective, and fear/courage in their own cre­ative work. They mused on the metaphor of vac­ci­na­tion as rehearsal: the artist’s advance prepa­ra­tion for the live performance.

Fig­ure 16: RADA work­shop. Left to right: Jamael West­man, Skye Hal­lam, Ali­son Humphrey, Pol­ly Misch, Simon Eves, Fehin­ti Balo­gun, Natasha Cow­ley, Sayre Fox, Abra­ham Popoola (not pic­tured: Tom Mar­tin, Maisie Robin­son), 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.

All of this was record­ed on video in Lon­don in June 2016. How­ev­er, in Gene­va in August 2016, dur­ing the sec­ond <Immune Nations> work­shop, Caitlin Fish­er, Steven Hoff­man, and I spent hours dis­cussing how Shad­ow­pox could best sit with­in the <Immune Nations> exhi­bi­tion the fol­low­ing spring. We sought a way to give the gallery vis­i­tor a more par­tic­i­pa­to­ry expe­ri­ence than watch­ing actors on a screen. We want­ed them to share the vis­cer­al sen­sa­tion of fight­ing a dis­ease made of shad­ows, spread­ing across their own skin. We hoped that an instal­la­tion-based Shad­ow­pox game would offer an inten­si­ty of phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al affect that would height­en the gallery visitor’s sense of con­nec­tion not just to the piece but to the com­mu­ni­ty con­text of their own future vac­ci­na­tion decisions.

As I returned to Toron­to and worked on design­ing a Shad­ow­pox 2.0 in video game form, I kept return­ing to Bogost’s con­cept of pro­ce­dur­al rhetoric, “the prac­tice of author­ing argu­ments through process­es” (“Rhetoric of Video Games” 125). Bogost quotes Murray’s def­i­n­i­tion of pro­ce­dur­al author­ship: “writ­ing the rules for the interactor’s involve­ment, that is, the con­di­tions under which things will hap­pen in response to the participant’s actions” (122). As an artis­tic cre­ation, a game’s world is the sum total of artis­tic choic­es that include “if/then” rules of in-game physics, biol­o­gy, and social behav­iour, just as much as colour palette and sound­track com­po­si­tion. Com­put­er pro­gram­ming uses rule-based “if/then” pro­ce­dures that gov­ern how actions trig­ger con­se­quences. For exam­ple, in the kids’ game “The Floor Is Lava,” if you touch the floor, then you’re dead. In Pac-Man, if the play­er guides Pac-Man over a pow­er pel­let, then he can eat a ghost to earn bonus points. These invent­ed rules, in games or sci­ence fic­tion, become what I call “the local laws of grav­i­ty.” Bogost believes that “videogames are par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful tools for visu­al­iz­ing the log­ics that make up a world­view (fol­low­ing Gram­sci), [or] the ide­o­log­i­cal dis­tor­tions in polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions (fol­low­ing Žižek)” (Per­sua­sive Games 74–75). In design­ing this new Shad­ow­pox game, some log­ics and dis­tor­tions in my own think­ing came into view.

My orig­i­nal inter­ac­tion design con­cept had imag­ined the vac­cine as a fight rehearsal, with char­ac­ters and shad­ow­pox shar­ing the per­for­mance space like a mata­dor shar­ing the ring with a bull. Actors would cre­ate their own dance/fight chore­og­ra­phy, “inter­act­ing with the dead­ly shad­ow­pox as it flocks like star­lings or sun­fish across stage sur­faces and skin,” as my 2015 doc­tor­al pro­pos­al put it. In prac­tice, this large-scale design proved unwork­able for the RADA work­shop, due to the short range of the Kinect sen­sor. I learned from Gra­ham Wake­field of the Alice Lab for Com­pu­ta­tion­al World­mak­ing that both devices should ide­al­ly be in the same loca­tion, at the same dis­tance from the sub­ject, using a sim­i­lar throw. Since the Kinect’s throw ratio is rough­ly 1:1 (where width of image equals dis­tance from sur­face), its max­i­mum range of four metres from the sub­ject means the pro­jec­tor could cre­ate a play­ing space of only four metres wide.

As a result of this tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tion, I changed the frame of the dis­ease inter­ac­tion design from room-scale to body-scale. Inspired by the image of viral bud­ding (Fig­ure 17), I start­ed with the con­cept that shad­ow­pox infec­tion was trans­mit­ted by one person’s shad­ow falling across another’s, where it incu­bat­ed in the shad­owed side of the new host’s body, then even­tu­al­ly “bud­ded” out of this “dark side of the moon” to migrate into the light­ed side.

Fig­ure 17: R. Dour­mashkin (Well­come Images), HIV par­ti­cles bud­ding from the sur­face of a T cell, 2004.

This con­cept imag­ined the actor’s hands as the anti­gen-bind­ing sites of a Y-shaped anti­body (Fig­ure 18). By grab­bing the virus par­ti­cles, they could neu­tral­ize them by drag­ging them off the body to die.

Fig­ure 18: Nation­al Human Genome Research Insti­tute, Anti­body and anti­gens, n.d.Public domain.

Ulit-Desta­jo cod­ed a pro­ce­dure where­by, when the Kinect sensed the actor’s hand clos­ing over a group of pox, the pox could be moved. If the actor moved them off the body, the pox would begin a vis­i­ble death sequence: break­ing, curl­ing, shriv­el­ling, and falling to the ground. We worked hard to make this effect compelling—me by sourc­ing vec­tor art of curl­ing ani­mal horns (Fig­ure 19) in a nod to the name toropox, and her by putting a sine wave on their y-posi­tion and a cosine wave on their x-posi­tion to give them a nice arc as they spun, shrank, and fell to the bot­tom of the frame.

Fig­ure 19: Katari­naF and Andri­jamil, Horn vec­tor art, n.d. Shutterstock.

Ulit-Desta­jo also wres­tled with the best way to trig­ger that change. We ini­tial­ly dis­cussed draw­ing an out­line around the avatar, so that when the pox crossed this fron­tier, its death would begin. How­ev­er, that proved eas­i­er said than cod­ed. As described above, the live-ani­mat­ed avatar was a col­lec­tion of cir­cles, rec­tan­gles, and Bézi­er curves cal­cu­lat­ed on the fly, and draw­ing an out­line around it was so com­pu­ta­tion­al­ly tax­ing that it slowed game­play. She even­tu­al­ly craft­ed a workaround based on prox­im­i­ty-to-cen­tre of the avatar’s spine (Fig­ure 20). When any pox moved away from that mid­point by a dis­tance of more than 0.75 times the spine’s length, it was con­sid­ered to have left the body, and its demise began (Figs. 21, 22).

Fig­ure 20: open­Frame­works code cal­cu­lat­ing when a pox’s death is trig­gered, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.
Fig­ure 21: Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo, Kinect skele­ton-track­ing: radius beyond which a pox’s death is trig­gered, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.
Fig­ure 22: Actor Maisie Robin­son in RADA work­shop, 2016. Pho­to by Simon Eves.

When I proud­ly described this pro­ce­dur­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of “fight­ing a virus” to Natasha Crow­croft, a sci-fi afi­ciona­do, then chief of applied immu­niza­tion research at Pub­lic Health Ontario, and one of the project’s first sci­en­tif­ic advi­sors, her response put the first tilt on my per­spec­tive. After first admir­ing the visu­al con­cept, she said sim­ply, “But I would be con­cerned about infec­tion con­trol.” That com­ment struck deep and stayed with me for months. In all my focus on the fig­ure, I had ignored the ground. This is what makes a com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease dif­fer­ent from, say, dia­betes or can­cer: the affect­ed indi­vid­ual, as they fight a virus, can inad­ver­tent­ly infect others.

The sec­ond oppor­tu­ni­ty to look at my design from a new angle came in Octo­ber 2016 when I vis­it­ed Deba­jehmu­jig Sto­ry­tellers, a the­atre com­pa­ny based on Wiik­wemkoong Unced­ed Ter­ri­to­ry in north­ern Ontario, to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble Shad­ow­pox work­shop. Bruce Naok­wegi­jig, then artis­tic direc­tor of out­reach and edu­ca­tion, encour­aged me to revis­it the orig­i­nal room-scale design idea, in order to accom­mo­date mul­ti­ple actors in the scene and explore the fun­da­men­tal­ly rela­tion­al nature of contagion.

Naokwegijig’s and Crowcroft’s com­ments led to a real­iza­tion that my first inter­ac­tion design had incar­nat­ed the eco­nom­ic con­cept of exter­nal­i­ties, defined as a cost or con­se­quence of some eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty which affects a third par­ty, with­out this cost being acknowl­edged or fac­tored into the equa­tion. I was par­al­lel­ing what Reich terms the ide­ol­o­gy of indi­vid­u­al­ist par­ent­ing, which she argues “pri­or­i­tizes indi­vid­ual choice for one’s own chil­dren over com­mu­ni­ty oblig­a­tion, [and] ignores how some fam­i­lies with few­er resources have few­er options, but face increased risk of ill­ness” (12). Our society’s focus on the indi­vid­ual is equal­ly reflect­ed in pol­i­cy efforts to increase vac­ci­na­tion uptake, which Kit­ta and Gold­berg argue “suf­fer from method­olog­i­cal indi­vid­u­al­ism, which empha­sizes the indi­vid­ual as the agent for behav­ioral change,” ignor­ing the upstream struc­tur­al fac­tors, “belief for­ma­tion, risk and risk com­mu­ni­ca­tion, fear, leg­end, and folk­lore” that deter­mine those behav­iours (1–2).

The Shad­ow­pox effects quite lit­er­al­ly embod­ied the idea that any­thing out­side the out­line of the actor’s own indi­vid­ual body did not mat­ter. When a pox got far enough from the actor’s cen­tre, it died. The game seemed to pre­sume that no one else was affect­ed, or if they were, they were so far from the cen­tre of atten­tion as to be out of sight and mind. Turn­ing a blind eye to exter­nal­i­ties in this way was, in Bogost’s terms, an “ide­o­log­i­cal dis­tor­tion” cod­ed into our game’s pro­ce­dur­al rhetoric.

Espos­i­to keys the prin­ci­ple of immu­ni­ty to the “bound­ary between self and other—between us and them” (151). In stop­ping my imag­i­na­tion at that bor­der, I had re-enact­ed the process that most of us use when we make immu­niza­tion deci­sions: we think only about how a vac­cine might pro­tect or, in extreme­ly rare cas­es, harm us as indi­vid­u­als. I had left the com­mu­ni­ty who sur­round me—family, friends, col­leagues, and strangers—completely out of the pic­ture. I had for­got­ten that when I choose to “get the vac­cine” or “risk the virus,” I take all of them along with me in that choice.

Fig­ure 23: Ali­son Humphrey, “My 99 and I…” stick­er designs for #ArtSci­Im­mu­nize sym­po­sium at Jack­man Human­i­ties Insti­tute, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, April 13, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Shad­ow­pox: The Anti­body Politic found its focus the instant those 99 oth­er fig­ures were added into the frame. At that moment, fight­ing the dis­ease was no longer a solo activ­i­ty con­duct­ed in a vac­u­um, but the amass­ing of an “Infec­tion Col­lec­tion” of one’s fel­low humans. Even the vac­cine choice sparks a com­mu­nal what-if: your “Pro­tec­tion Col­lec­tion” is all the peo­ple you would have infect­ed in the alter­nate uni­verse where your fight rehearsal was show­time with the actu­al virus, though this con­cept was hard­er to visu­al­ize. How do you show things not hap­pen­ing?

The team found a solu­tion to that conun­drum three years lat­er with Shad­ow­pox: #Stay­Home Edi­tion (shad​ow​pox​.org/​g​ame). In this online rein­ven­tion of The Anti­body Politic, cod­ed in JavaScript and sub­mit­ted to the Unit­ed Nations COVID-19 Response Cre­ative Con­tent Hub in April 2020, the player’s avatar is infect­ed but asymp­to­matic, and inclined to wan­der. If you don’t active­ly work to stay home, there is a 50% chance you will infect any of the 99 neigh­bours who encounter you or cross the viral trail of shad­ow­pox you leave as you walk. Each infect­ed neigh­bour has a 20% chance, not of death, but of need­ing hos­pi­tal care, bring­ing to mind the pan­dem­ic-era con­cept of “flat­ten­ing the curve” so as not to over­whelm the health­care sys­tem. The team was also keen to add expo­nen­tial growth into the visu­al­iza­tion this time around: if you go out and infect even one of your 99 neigh­bours, they can pass the virus along to oth­ers, who can pass it along in turn, and all those infec­tions are added to your total score.

Hoff­man sug­gest­ed that if the player’s ini­tial choice is between going out and stay­ing home, the win­ning score should be zero: “No one else gets infect­ed. It’s boring—like stay­ing at home—but that’s the point.” On the flip side, Sol­lé pro­posed that if the ini­tial choice were between two worlds—one where every­body but you is phys­i­cal­ly dis­tanc­ing, and one where nobody is—the lat­ter world could give play­ers a vivid mod­el of how mul­ti­ple indi­vid­ual choic­es can add up to col­lec­tive chaos.

Citizen Science Fiction

The Shad­ow­pox project (shad​ow​pox​.org) has con­tin­ued to evolve, its mixed-real­i­ty tech­nol­o­gy now pow­er­ing both a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry sto­ry­telling method I’m call­ing “action refrac­tion,” and a ped­a­gog­i­cal frame­work called a “course­play” devel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tive work­shops with Deba­jehmu­jig Sto­ry­tellers and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foun­da­tion Youth Cen­tre in Cape Town.

In his eulo­gy for Nel­son Man­dela, Barack Oba­ma said, “There is a word in South Africa—ubun­tu, a word that cap­tures Mandela’s great­est gift: His recog­ni­tion that we are all bound togeth­er in ways that are invis­i­ble to the eye; that there is a one­ness to human­i­ty; that we achieve our­selves by shar­ing our­selves with oth­ers, and car­ing for those around us.” Shad­ow­pox is intend­ed to be one exam­ple of the “con­struc­tive role that art can play in glob­al polit­i­cal dis­course around life-sav­ing vac­cines” (<Immune Nations>): the use of visu­al, nar­ra­tive and pro­ce­dur­al rhetoric to make vis­i­ble the ways we are all con­nect­ed, and the impact we have on one another.

Com­mu­ni­ty immu­ni­ty can only be achieved, not by a sin­gle hero, but by the drag­on-slay­ing courage of hun­dreds of thou­sands. Per­haps this “cit­i­zen sci­ence fic­tion” can offer young peo­ple more ways to imag­ine the unseen, to inspire reflec­tion and debate in the audi­ence of their peers, and to gen­er­ate new insights into one of the thorni­est polit­i­cal dilem­mas of pub­lic health: vol­un­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion in the col­lec­tive good.

Acknowledgments

Ali­son Humphrey would like to acknowl­edge the invalu­able sup­port of the Vanier Cana­da Grad­u­ate Schol­ar­ship, as well as York University’s Immer­sive Sto­ry­telling Lab, Future Cin­e­ma Lab, and Alice Lab for Com­pu­ta­tion­al World­mak­ing, in mak­ing the Shad­ow­pox project possible.

Works Cited

Badiou, Alain. Hand­book of Inaes­thet­ics. Trans­lat­ed by Alber­to Toscano, Stan­ford UP, 2005.

Biss, Eula. On Immu­ni­ty: An Inoc­u­la­tion. Min­neapo­lis: Gray­wolf Press, 2014.

Bliss, Michael. The Mak­ing of Mod­ern Med­i­cine: Turn­ing Points in the Treat­ment of Dis­ease. U of Chica­go P, 2011.

Bogost, Ian. Per­sua­sive Games. MIT P, 2007.

Bogost, Ian. “The Rhetoric of Video Games.” The Ecol­o­gy of Games: Con­nect­ing Youth, Games, and Learn­ing, edit­ed by Katie Salen Tek­in­bas, MIT Press, 2008, pp. 117–40.

Chap­man, Owen, and Kim Saw­chuk. “Cre­ation-as-Research: Crit­i­cal Mak­ing in Com­plex Envi­ron­ments.” RACAR: Revue d’art cana­di­enne, vol. 40, no. 1, 2015, pp. 49–52. doi: 10.7202/1032753ar.

Deleuze, Gilles. Fran­cis Bacon: The Log­ic of Sen­sa­tion. Trans­lat­ed by Daniel W. Smith, Con­tin­u­um, 2013.

Espos­i­to, Rober­to. Immu­ni­tas: The Pro­tec­tion and Nega­tion of Life. Trans­lat­ed by Zakiya Hanafi, Poli­ty Press, 2011.

Hegel, Georg Wil­helm Friedrich. (1818-1829). Intro­duc­to­ry Lec­tures on Aes­thet­ics. Trans­lat­ed by Bernard Bosan­quet, Pen­guin Books, 1993.

How­ells, Lau­ra. “After the Death of Her 2-Year-Old, Mis­sis­sauga Mom Urges Every­one to Get Their Flu Shot.” CBC News, 21 Oct. 2016. cbc​.ca/​n​e​w​s​/​c​a​n​a​d​a​/​t​o​r​o​n​t​o​/​m​i​s​s​i​s​s​a​u​g​a​-​f​l​u​-​s​h​o​t​-​1​.​3​8​1​6​316.

<Immune Nations>. www​.immune​na​tions​.com. Accessed 3 Mar. 2020.

Kit­ta, Andrea, and Daniel S. Gold­berg. “The Sig­nif­i­cance of Folk­lore for Vac­cine Pol­i­cy: Dis­card­ing the Deficit Mod­el.” Crit­i­cal Pub­lic Health, 2016. doi: 10.1080/09581596.2016.1235259.

Mur­ray, Janet. Ham­let on the Holodeck: The Future of Nar­ra­tive in Cyber­space. Free Press, 1997.

Oba­ma, Barack. “Obama’s Speech at Man­dela Memo­r­i­al (Tran­script): ‘Man­dela Taught Us the Pow­er of Action, But Also Ideas.’” Wash­ing­ton Post, 10 Dec. 2013. wash​ing​ton​post​.com/​w​o​r​l​d​/​o​b​a​m​a​s​-​s​p​e​e​c​h​-​a​t​-​m​a​n​d​e​l​a​-​m​e​m​o​r​i​a​l​-​m​a​n​d​e​l​a​-​t​a​u​g​h​t​-​u​s​-​t​h​e​-​p​o​w​e​r​-​o​f​-​a​c​t​i​o​n​-​b​u​t​-​a​l​s​o​-​i​d​e​a​s​/​2​0​1​3​/​1​2​/​1​0​/​a​2​2​c​8​a​9​2​-​6​1​8​c​-​1​1​e​3​-​b​f​4​5​-​6​1​f​6​9​f​5​4​f​c​5​f​_​s​t​o​r​y​.​h​tml.

Ofri, Danielle. “Pub­lic Health and the Muse.” Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health, vol. 30, no. 2, 2008, pp. 205–08.

Reich, Jen­nifer A. Call­ing the Shots: Why Par­ents Reject Vac­cines. NYUP, 2016.

Slovic, Scott, and Paul Slovic. Num­bers and Nerves: Infor­ma­tion, Emo­tion, and Mean­ing in a World of Data. Ore­gon State UP, 2015.

Sobo, Elisa J., et al. “Infor­ma­tion Cura­tion among Vac­cine Cau­tious Par­ents: Web 2.0, Pin­ter­est Think­ing, and Pedi­atric Vac­ci­na­tion Choice.” Med­ical Anthro­pol­o­gy, vol. 35, no. 6, 2016, pp. 529–46, doi:10.1080/01459740.2016.1145219.

Vos­soughi­an, Nad­er. Otto Neu­rath: The Lan­guage of the Glob­al Polis. NAi Pub­lish­ers, 2008.

Will­rich, Michael. Pox: An Amer­i­can His­to­ry. Pen­guin Books, 2011.

Image Notes

Fig­ure 1. Fold-out colour plate show­ing vac­ci­na­tion scars. Well­come Col­lec­tion, Attri­bu­tion 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al (CC BY 4.0). https://​well​comecol​lec​tion​.org/​w​o​r​k​s​/​h​y​j​x​g​xax.

Fig­ure 2. Ali­son Humphrey, Pox­On­Me, PoxOn’Em, Poxé­mon, 2017. Title ani­ma­tion stills. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Fig­ure 3. Shad­ow­pox play­er at the <Immune Nations> exhi­bi­tion open­ing, UNAIDS, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

Fig­ure 4. Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo, Mag­gie the Man­nequin and Ali­son Humphrey cal­i­brat­ing pro­jec­tor with Kinect skele­ton track­ing, 2016. Pho­to by Wes­ley Moir.

Fig­ure 5. Cod­ing in open­Frame­works for real-time avatar ani­ma­tion, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.

Fig­ure 6. Half-fin­ished pic­togram avatar with tor­so and joints, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.

Fig­ure 7. Final pic­togram avatar in action among 99 neigh­bours, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

Fig­ure 8a. Otto Neu­rath, Great War 1914-18, Pub­lished in a trav­el­ing, fold­ing pre­sen­ta­tion port­fo­lio for the Mun­danaeum in Lon­don, 1930s. Image cour­tesy of Otto and Marie Neu­rath Iso­type Col­lec­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Reading.

Fig­ure 8b. Otto Neu­rath, Tuber­cu­lo­sis spreads in the house­hold, 1938. Chart from the ‘Fight­ing Tuber­cu­lo­sis’ exhi­bi­tion pro­duced for The Nation­al Tuber­cu­lo­sis Asso­ci­a­tion in the USA. Image cour­tesy of Otto and Marie Neu­rath Iso­type Col­lec­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Reading.

Fig­ure 9. Ali­son Humphrey, Vaccine/Virus choice screen with vac­ci­na­tion rate, 2017. Pho­to by Ali­son Humphrey.

Fig­ure 10. Ali­son Humphrey, Shad­ow­pox game instruc­tions sig­nage, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Fig­ure 11. Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, Shad­ow­pox sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el spread­sheet, 2017.

Fig­ure 12. First Lady of Namib­ia Mon­i­ca Gein­gos plays Shad­ow­pox at the <Immune Nations> open­ing, May 23, 2017. Pho­to by Steven Hoffman.

Fig­ure 13. Ali­son Humphrey, Healthy, sick and dead neigh­bours, 2017. The healthy and sick fig­ures are stills from ani­mat­ed loops by Shutterstock/GCramm; the dead fig­ure is a pic­togram by Lere­my Gan.

Fig­ure 14. Caitlin Fish­er (text) and Lere­my Gan (pic­togram), Poxé­mon card: Ima, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artists.

Fig­ure 15. Video stills from RADA Shad­ow­pox work­shop, 2016. Pho­to by Simon Eves.

Fig­ure 16. RADA work­shop. Left to right: Jamael West­man, Skye Hal­lam, Ali­son Humphrey, Pol­ly Misch, Simon Eves, Fehin­ti Balo­gun, Natasha Cow­ley, Sayre Fox, Abra­ham Popoola (not pic­tured: Tom Mar­tin, Maisie Robin­son), 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.

Fig­ure 17. R. Dour­mashkin (Well­come Images), HIV par­ti­cles bud­ding from the sur­face of a T cell, 2004. Well­come Images avail­able under the fol­low­ing cre­ative com­mons usage http://​cre​ativecom​mons​.org/​l​i​c​e​n​s​e​s​/​b​y​-​n​c​-​n​d​/​2​.​0​/​uk/; http://​www​.cel​lim​ageli​brary​.org/​i​m​a​g​e​s​/​3​9​465.

Fig­ure 18. Nation­al Human Genome Research Insti­tute, Anti­body and anti­gens, n.d. Pub­lic domain, orig­i­nal­ly a work of the Unit­ed States Gov­ern­ment, https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​F​i​l​e​:​A​n​t​i​b​o​d​y​.​png.

Fig­ure 19. Katari­naF and Andri­jamil, Horn vec­tor art, n.d., pur­chased by the author at Shutterstock.

Fig­ure 20. open­Frame­works code cal­cu­lat­ing when a pox’s death is trig­gered, 2016. Pho­to by Lalaine Ulit-Destajo.

Fig­ure 21. Lalaine Ulit-Desta­jo, Kinect skele­ton-track­ing: radius beyond which a pox’s death is trig­gered, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Fig­ure 22. Actor Maisie Robin­son in 2016 RADA work­shop, 2016. Pho­to by Simon Eves.

Fig­ure 23. Ali­son Humphrey, “My 99 and I…” stick­er designs for #ArtSci­Im­mu­nize sym­po­sium at Jack­man Human­i­ties Insti­tute, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, April 13, 2017. Image cour­tesy of the artist.

Notes


  1. Editor’s note: For more on how struc­tur­al inequal­i­ties between devel­op­ing and devel­oped coun­tries are reflect­ed in vac­cine avail­abil­i­ty, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and uptake, see Sahar et al., “Overview of Key Legal, Polit­i­cal, and Social Chal­lenges Fac­ing Glob­al Vac­ci­na­tion Efforts,” this vol­ume.

  2. Work­ing title: “The Shad­ow­pox Sto­ry­world as Cit­i­zen Sci­ence Fic­tion: Build­ing Co-Immu­ni­ty through Par­tic­i­pa­to­ry Mixed-Real­i­ty Sto­ry­telling” (Cin­e­ma and Media Arts, York Uni­ver­si­ty).