|Jeremy Mendes,Leanne Allison
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“The story is about a collection of data and moments – there’s CCTV cameras in every city, and it’s essentially about us.”
Jeremy Mendes, Co-Author, in Submarine Channel
The National Film Board of Canada’s Bear 71 is a first-person documentary centered on the titular grizzly bear, tagged and tracked in Canada’s Banff National Park. Voiced by Canadian actress Mia Kirschner, Bear 71 narrates her life from the moment she’s tagged by park rangers until her death. Struggling to discover “where the wired world ends and the wild one begins,” the Bear finds her existence threatened by encroaching civilization–railway tracks, power lines, and growing towns.
Bear 71’s interactive interface depicts Banff as it might have been imagined by Big Brother. Migrating dots represent tagged animals like Bear 71 as they navigate through the supposedly wild landscape, never free from the watchful eyes of park rangers. Visitors to Bear 71 are also tracked, through their webcam and tagged with a number just like the animals (e.g., Human 1806291). Live webcam video of human visitors is matched with actual surveillance video of the animals from Banff, which Bear 71 co-creator Leanne Allison culled from 11 years of footage of Banff animals.
Bear 71 premiered as an interactive installation at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibition for innovative and emerging work. Visitors could interact with a large version of the web documentary in real time using iPads to represent specific trail markers.