Explore Bear 71 in VR

The intersection between humans,
animals and technology


Bear 71 is the true story of a female grizzly bear monitored by the wildlife conservation offices from 2001 - 2009.

She lived her life under near constant surveillance and was continually stressed by the interactions with the human world. She was tracked and logged as data, reflecting the way we have to see the world around us through Tron and Matrix-like filters, qualifying and quantifying everything, rather than experiencing and interacting.

Leanne Allison sifted through thousands of photos from motion-triggered cameras from this project. The grainy images gathered over the past 10 years by various scientists reveal the hidden life of the forest, played out by the animals and humans - including Bear 71 - captured covertly on film.

Bear 71’s story is consistently played out in places all over the globe where humans and wildlife intersect - from cougars in Nova Scotia to Bears in suburban Vancouver to Bear culls in New Jersey.

It highlights how our growing dependence on technology divorces us from nature, even while allowing us to keep closer tabs on it. It raises questions about how we view nature, how we view ourselves in relation to technology and nature, and the nature and validity of surveillance both in the wild, and within human society.

Chances are, your picture gets taken dozens of times a day without you really knowing it. This type of surveillance is done so that you don’t steal gas, steal a car, or steal a kiss.

Life was not so different for this bear. She was trapped, collared, and given a number at the age of 3.

For 11 years, she suppressed her natural instincts, and survived in a maze of roads, towns, trains, tourists, and a barrage of tempting smells she had to learn to ignore.

Bear 71 reimagines the bear’s story from an omniscient narrative vantage point. She speaks directly to us, and her insight forms a bridge between millions of years of evolution in the wild, and a few decades of technological advances that have infiltrated nearly every part of our lives.

She’s still wild, and still speaks the language of the forest, writing her story on the trees.

At the same time, she can take stock of the various technologies that affect her, and critically assess human efforts to “manage” wildlife in an area where grizzly bears are barely hanging on.

Turning the lens of technology on itself, Bear 71 examines the story of the bear through the digital interactive medium, creating a vivid technological interpretation of nature for us to explore, and for the bear to inhabit as she tells her story.

We’re watching her. She’s watching us. And at the same time, we’re watching ourselves.

In the words of the bear, “Sometimes it’s hard to say where the wired world ends and the wild one begins.”

Co-Creators: Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison and the NFB
Bear 71 Voice: Mia Kirshner
Producers: Loc Dao, Bonnie Thompson, Dana Dansereau, Rob McLaughlin, Janine Steele
Executive Producers: Loc Dao, Rob McLaughlin, David Christensen
Written by: JB MacKinnon
Editor: Jennifer Moss
Produced in partnership with Google Commissioned by IDFA Doclab in collaboration with Sound and Vision
Interactive Design, Development and Programming: Jam3
Executive Creative Director: Pablo Vio
Creative Director: Dirk Van Ginkel
Technical Director: Aaron Morris
Developers: Tomasz Dysinksi, Matt DesLaurier, Arturo Paracuellos, Gauthier Pompougnac, Wenchen Li, Marco Donnici
Designers (VR): Steven Mengin, Pedro Barroso
Executive Producer: Michael Dobell
Producer: Ben McEvoy
Design (Original - Web): Aubyn Freybe-Smith
Sound Designer: Joshua Stevenson
Video Editor: Bill Hardman and Hart Snider
Music Consultant: Jonathan Orr
Wordmark Design: Patrick Johnson
Social Story Design/Installation Co-Creator: Lance Weiler
Associate Creative Technologist: Vincent McCurley
Project Managers: Laura Mitchell, Vanessa Fukuyama
Centre Administrators: Darin Clausen, Carla Jones
Production Coordinators: Faye Yoneda, Ginette D’Silva, Jennifer Roworth, Teri Snelgrove and Jasmine Pullukatt
Marketing: JS Defoy, Moira Keigher, Tammy Peddle
Publicist: Jennifer Mair
Social Media: Kathryn Ruscito
System Administrators: Sergiu Raul Sucio, Bruno Gervasi
Legal Services: Christian Pitchen
Trail camera images provided by: Parks Canada, Alberta Provincial Parks, and Montana State University
Stills Photography provided by: Graeme Pole / Mountain Vision
Additional Footage by: Alex Taylor and Leanne Allison
Written by Thomas Edward Yorke, Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood, Colin Charles Greenwood, Edward John O'Brien, and Philip James Selway
Performed by Radiohead
Reproduced with Permission from Warner Chapell Music Canada and Beggars Group Media
"Zone 4"
Written by Cooper Crain
Performed by Bitchin’ Bajas
Reproduced with Permission from Cooper Crain
Written and Performed by Laurie Spiegel
Courtesy of Laurie Spiegel/ Laurie Spiegel Publishing
Written and Performed by Tim Hecker
Published by Tim Hecker (SOCAN)
Appears Courtesy of Kranky, Ltd.
"Sheets Two"
Composed by Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp
Performed by Mountains
From the Album Choral
Reproduced with Permission from Thrill Jockey Records
"White Oak White Pine"
Written by Per Henrik Svalastog
Performed by Svalastog
Courtesy of Rune Grammofon
"Minuet for a Cheap Piano"
Written by Adam Wiltzie & Dustin O'Halloran
Performed by Winged Victory for the Sullen
Reproduced with Permission from Kranky, Ltd. & Erased Tapes
"Dragging the Streets"
Written by Liz Harris
Performed by Grouper
Licensed Courtesy of Liz Harris
"Alien Observer"
Written by Liz Harris
Performed by Grouper
Licensed Courtesy of Liz Harris
Written by Scott Morgan
Performed by Loscil
Licensed Courtesy of Ghostly International
The Creators would like to thank: Steve Michel, Colleen Campbell, Jesse Whittington, Tony Clevenger, Nikki Heim, Adam Ford, Melanie Percy, Megan Lindsay, Caspar Sonnen
Google Logo IDFA DOCLAB Logo Sound And Vision Logo
  1. My Home Range
  2. The First Rule Of Survival
  3. A Mother Bear Is A Cautious Bear
  4. I Call It Rubber Bullets
  5. What Looks Random Probably Isn't
  6. A Good Bear Won't Eat The Children
  7. An Accident Is Not The Same As A Mystery
  8. Put That In Your Notebook
  9. You Can't Eat Technology
  10. The Camera Was A Witness
  11. All It Takes Is One Mistake