Ollie Dook
    4 THE DANCING BEAR

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    There are currently multiple videos circulating online that revolve around a polar bear from Pittsburgh Zoo, that is depicted walking forwards and backwards with its head bobbing from side to side on repeat like a tape being rewound and played, again and again. The videos are often labelled or described as ‘Dancing Polar Bear’ videos and are occasionally dubbed with energising and comic soundtracks. Humankind has a long withstanding history with the dancing bear from Middle Ages to the 19th century. In both Europe and Asia the bear has been commonly subjected to forcibly dance with their human trainers and captors. In some places of the world this is still the case toady, and we consistently produce digital versions of these old representations for the likes of advertising and children’s cartoons. Much like the Pittsburgh polar bear our protagonist is not dancing but on loop, suffering from their own form of stereotypy - a repetitive or ritualistic movement, posture, or utterance. This condition often connected to variable disabilities is also seen in animals with reduced stimuli, the movement becoming a vain attempt to satisfy a lacking experience. In the repetition of infinite scrolling, the protagonist is caught up in a human action that could also be seen as an attempt to induce stimuli, in reaction to a diminished experience of the real world.

    Ollie Dook's Animal Stories-series takes multiple strands of reoccurring and memetic ideas of the animal image that are primarily accessed and shared via the means of YouTube, and re-told in an episodic tale harking back to the traditions of Disney’s ‘Silly Symphony’ series.

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