INTERACTIVE Narrative Installation, 2021
Last Night is a chooseable-path work of young adult fiction that provides a safe place for teens to experiment with the boundaries of ethical sexual behavior. Readers navigate an archetypical college party scene and make decisions about consuming alcohol, pursuing hookups, and testing friendships. Sex is explored in scenes that reflect real-world scenarios in which consent is often assumed due to body language, shared histories, or physical proximity. There are 14 possible endings, some of which involve your character getting hurt or hurting others. This framework allows young people to explore the ways power can be experienced and wielded— a person might assume a great deal of power in one sexual encounter, but be made to feel powerless in another.
This story borrows from author and designer Kris Backmore’s life experiences, and is based on primary research Midgray has conducted with men about their views on consent. Researchers Erica Boas, Jason Laker, Peggy Orenstein, Lisa Wade, Jennifer S. Hrisch, and Shaus Khan expanded our understanding of the pressures young people face from the media, their peers, and institutions to do college right— which includes hooking up a lot. This leads many students to believe that whatever amount of sex they are having is not enough and drives them toward risky sexual behavior. This pressure in conjunction with low literacy in regards to sexual health, consent, and pornography has created a public health crisis on campuses— a burden that is commonly carried by female students in their first six months of their college careers.
The installation immerses visitors in a dreamlike space that is reminiscent of a college dorm room. Elements from the written story manifest in the physical space, blurring the boundary between fiction and reality. The interactive story can be experienced on a monitor at the desk, but the only place to sit is on someone else’s bed.
Play the interactive story at: PlayLastNight.com
Currently exhibited at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU.