Bear 71

Designer | Artist Jeremy Mendes, Jeanne Allison
Year 2012

The 20-minute documentary chronicles the life of a female bear in the Canadian Rockies who was tagged and tracked by Banff National Park rangers from 2001-2009. Told from the first-person perspective of the female grizzly, named Bear 71, the film is split between live footage of the bear’s key experiences and a virtual map that the user can navigate freely—supplemented with over one million photos captured by Allison with motion-triggered cameras, as well as several videos, all set to a soundtrack of Radiohead, Atlas Sound, Tim Hecker and Caspian.

As Bear 71 lets us into her life, we learn about how her landscape has changed, how she has to deal with new human smells that hinder her ability to find food, and most importantly how she must learn to not listen to her natural instincts in order to survive in this new kind of world. The documentary poses questions like “How can we coexist with nature?” and shows that even while we’re able to keep closer tabs on nature and animals through the use of technology and surveillance, it renders us even more detached.

As part of the interactive experience, users have the option of either exploring the bear’s world via webcam (where they can interact in real-time with other users) or visiting the Bear 71 microsite and choosing another animal to embody to find out how human presence affects other types of wildlife.