TheDailyBeast.com - On Aug. 30, the well-respected Minneapolis institution the Walker Art Center will hold the first-ever film festival of Internet cat videos. The screenings are part of the Walker’s summer series. And, for such YouTube classics as the sweatshirt-wearing Keyboard Cat, it’s anticipating a blockbuster turnout.
It’s adorable—but is it art?
It’s “more of a social experiment,” says the organizer and a Walker programming director, Katie Hill. It was started to see whether the online cat community would even go outside, says Hill, who has two cats herself.
But the undeniable success of the project—10,000 votes for favorites, a sponsorship by Animal Planet, which will broadcast the crowd favorite, even a plug from Fox News—may be a flag to other museums. The Walker’s website had its highest traffic ever in the days following the announcement.
Why cats? Pop-culture theorists have thumb-sucked a variety of possible explanations: The juxtaposition of a noble, reserved animal with mundane tasks is inherently comical. Cats are good performers, they’re relatively easy to film, and they’re ideally scaled for online close-ups. Or perhaps viewing their lumpy fuzziness just softens the experience of sitting at a computer all day.
Whatever the case, “the Walker is on to something” when it targets “the ultra-devoted close-knit community of cat-video lovers,” says veteran cat blogger Angie Bailey. Founder of the site Catladyland, her favorites are of kitties making loud “nom-nom-nom sounds while they are eating,” she adds.
The Walker stresses that the festival isn’t part of its film and video department, one of the oldest and biggest in the country, and that a museum curator isn’t involved. Still, the presentation, even endorsement, by the museum of such downscale cat videos has some proponents of “real” video art a bit queasy.
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Written by Alexandra Peers
Image via Walker Art Center