“It’s hard to say where the wired world ends and the wired world begins.”
As part of the National Film Board of Canada, Bear 71 is a 20 minute interactive documentary that explores the the relationship between wildlife, human settlement, and surveillance. Created by Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison from the point of view of ‘Bear 71’, a tagged bear in Canada’s Banff National Park, participants are allowed to explore the interface of the bear’s habitat and interact with other viewers, engaging with both trail cams and webcams. Each viewer is (optionally) tagged and tracked as they move throughout the park, not only giving a different take on the way we use media in wild places, but also the ways in which we inhabit and use National Parks.
Strangely, I think, the film aims to personify Bear 71 as an entity that feels anger, joy, and forms opinions regarding the human encroachment on her territory. Though it is an effective film narrative technique, it serves to romanticize the objective, and therefore rigorous, way in which we view wild animals.
The film calls into question – what are the role of spaces such as our National Parks system within our rapidly urbanizing society, and how does that interface with the wildlife that these parks aim to protect. The ‘new wild’ that has been created through the lens of continuous observation and replacement of wildlife with human activity.
The film can be viewed (and interacted with) in full on the Bear 71 website.