Interactive Documentary Lets Users Experience The Forest Through Augmented Reality

Interactive Documentary Lets Users Experience The Forest Through Augmented Reality

The Canadian National Film Board's Bear71 creates an installation environment that viewers can navigate through with their tablet.

Plus Aziz
  • 25 january 2012

Funded by NFB, Canada’s public producer and distributor, Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison directed Bear 71, an app-enabled interactive documentary and installation in Utah. The work presents a powerful story from the perspective of a female grizzly bear who comments on the Banff National Park rangers tracking her to reveal insights on the relationship of wildlife to the digital world. The emotional narrative provides insight on the conditions of wildlife in the age of networks, information exchange, and digital surveillance and more importantly draws a striking parallel between how the web tracks people to gather information and how animals are surveilled to provide security.

Online users will be able to use access an augmented reality app that depicts an interactive forest environment rich with bears, cougars, sheep, and deer. They can also use their webcam and social media channels to get involved with the documentary through various gamification elements. According to NFB Executive Producer, Loc Dao:

The augmented reality app is a feature unique to the installation–that runs for 10 days at New Frontier and for four months at UMOCA (Utah Museum of Contemporary Art ). Online the user faces the disconnect from nature by the very form they are using — sitting in front of their computer. Similarly, at the installation the viewer is out of their element, being in a public space, and like many of us who live our lives through iPhones and digital cameras, the user at the installation experiences the grandiose 24-foot wide digital grid world of Bear 71 through a tablet app, limiting their view of the bigger picture and giving them safe distance from what’s happening in front of them.

The installation premiered at Sundance Film Festival and has been installed in The Yard in Park City and UMOCA until April 19.

Bear 71


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