Friday, June 16, 2017

Shadowpox reviews in The Lancet and Canadian Art

An article today in the UK medical journal The Lancet reviews Shadowpox and the <Immune Nations> exhibition at UNAIDS for the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

James Smith writes that "the eight artworks in this exhibition demonstrate how to engage productively and provocatively with policy makers and the public." After describing Jesper Alvær's Upstream the Cold Chain, Kaisu Koski's Conversations with Vaccine-Critical Parents, and Sean Caulfield's Anatomy Table, Smith continues:

"...Of the remaining contributions, one of the most engaging is Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic, developed by Alison Humphrey, Caitlin Fisher, Steven J Hoffman, and Lalaine Destajo. This interactive installation quite literally renders visible the invisible, as participants must choose whether or not to be vaccinated against the 'shadowpox' pathogen, before having the opportunity to trace the impact of their decision as an animated population is exposed to the threat of infection. On completion, participants are able to view their 'infection collection' or 'protection collection', as the population is transformed from an aggregate statistic with a series of detailed individual stories. This is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and playful ways to illustrate both the individual and population-level implications of community immunity...."

(Click to enlarge)

The journal Canadian Art also reviewed the exhibition:
Another unique artistic take on the global vaccination issue is Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic by a Canadian team: media artist Alison Humphrey, digital storyteller Caitlin Fisher and interaction designer LaLaine Ulit-Destajo, as well as [Steven] Hoffman himself. This “gamification of an epidemic,” as Hoffman puts it, invites visitors to try to wipe projections of various 'pox' off of their bodies. The number of pox to eliminate is scaled for whatever country the visitor has chosen, and thus underlines the way that resourcing affects “risk around the world,” says Hoffman." ...
Emotion certainly is something that runs high around vaccination debates, and one aim of <Immune Nations> is to find other ways of working with and through those emotions rather than just allowing the debate to become polarized.... 
'It is particularly timely now, given that we see around the world people questioning the role of science and alternative facts,' says Hoffman. 'It’s really important to us that we engage across sectors and find a new language in which to ensure people can be as healthy as possible.'
Shadowpox at RADA, video stills, 2016, “Immune Nations” at Galleri KiT, Trondheim, Norway. Photo: Natalie Loveless. Left to right: Skye Hallam, Fehinti Balogun, Tom Martin, Sayre Fox, Maisie Robinson, Natasha Cowley, Abraham Popoola, Jamael Westman and Polly Misch.