BEAR 71 is a rich interactive project, installation and social narrative that at the heart of it all features a 20 minute interactive documentary that raises awareness about the intersection of animals, humans and technology.
This multi-user experience launched alongside an installation at the Sundance festival entitled “Bear 71 Live”. The narrative follows the real life of a female grizzly bear in Canada’s Banff National Park from the moment she is tagged and collared by park rangers to the moment of her untimely death.The story is narrated by Mia Kirshner from the bear’s perspective, but users witness it through real footage collected from over 1 million photos take by motion triggered cameras that encompass the park.
Bear 71 blurs the line between the wild world and the wired one. Audiences explore the bear’s natural habitat, which is expressed as an abstract landscape constructed by thousands of stylized data points. A 3D particle engine was custom-built to bring this nature grid to life. As users tour the grid, they can peek into the multiple surveillance cameras placed around
The bear’s story speaks to how we co-exist with wildlife in the age of networks, geo-location and shared digital information.
While exploring the chapters of the film, users are even turned into animals. If a user accepts, the site will use your webcam to observe you and broadcast video of you to other viewers by posting them to the “surveillance wall.” This multi-user server also generates users as clickable moving points on the grid so you can chart your own path and track those of other users.
Bear 71 highlights how our increasingly heavy dependence on technology separates us from nature even though it allows us to keep closer tabs on it. It also forces us to confront how we view ourselves in relation to technology and nature, and makes us question the validity of surveillance both in the wild and in human society.
The project has been extremely successful with an outpour of thousands of comments stemming from Twitter and coverage from international press.