The Walker Art Center is elevating the cat video to an art form, reports Jennifer A. Kingson in The New York Times (10/23/13). "People keep asking the questions, ‘Is this art, and if this is not art, what is art?’," says Rachel Lee Joyce, a Walker publicist. The Walker wants to help further that discussion, and is doing so with the Internet Cat Video Festival, "a traveling show that features an 80-minute reel of clips culled from 10,000 submissions and edited by museum curators." This ultimate cat video "has been shown around the world, concert-style, to throngs of fans."
"Cat videos seem to transcend language and culture," says Scott Stulen, the festival’s curator. "People are really passionate about this." Featured clips include "a poignant encounter between a hair dryer and a blind kitten, which flails its paws at the heat, wind and noise. Elsewhere, a black cat plays the villain, rudely swatting a pill bottle off a dresser, then turning to the camera to deliver a contemptuous yawn." Other clips are more elaborate and staged, such as Conversation Cats, which features a pair of cats "depicted as New York socialites," complete with voiceovers.
"I think cat videos in the last couple of years have gone from someone just catching something cute on a cellphone to being more produced," says Jared Thompson, creator of Conversation Cats. Adam Schleichkorn believes he led the genre with his 2007 video, "I’m Just a Cat and I’m Doing Cat Stuff." The Walker jumped on the catwagon last year, after unexpectedly attracting 10,000 people to a cat-video screening. Some fans say the festival is also a community. As one enthusiast explains: "It’s like, let’s all watch this video that we’ve all seen 100 times, but let’s come together and watch this content together."