Because, apparently, we are not wasting enough time staring at cute kitty videos, a nationally acclaimed institution has taken a step toward legitimizing them. On the last day of August, Minneapolis’s prestigious Walker Art Center, one of the nation’s most prominent institutions of contemporary art, hosted the inaugural “Internet Cat Video Film Festival.” An estimated 10,000 people showed up.
No, really. And why not? Isn’t half the known world already ooooh-ing and aaaah-ing over videos of Fluffy flushing the toilet and Boots and Mittens discovering their first ball of yarn? We are, and the folks at the Walker are on to us.
In fact, much of the audience for the late summer event had already seen most of the clips being screened, having ogled them on YouTube while they were supposed to be working. No matter. It was only a matter of time before someone acknowledged that, in the great time-suck that is the Ethernet, the cat video rules supreme. In this case, it was Walker event programmer, Katie Hill, who originally pitched the festival as a kind of joke. But her bosses saw the event as a good fit with its new, experimental, public programming venture, and shortly Hill found herself jurying a panel that viewed every one of the 10,000 videos submitted. She and the jury grouped the selected videos into categories, such as Foreign, Art House and Documentary, then narrowed the list even further. Finally, a festival was born – one featuring Snooky, the tabby, cat-handling a metronome; another, a French long-hair bemoaning its very existence; and a slew of short “films” in which kittens rode on vacuum sweepers.