They pee in a box, cough up hair, and now, definitively rule the internet.
Well, they've got a good hold on Youtube at the very least. Cats have captured the nation, with YouTube currently hosting over 2 million cat videos, attracting an average of 12,000 views per video.
On Nov. 20-21, the Indianapolis Museum of Art will host three sold-out screenings of this year's Internet Cat Video Festival, a 75-minute compilation featuring approximately 45 of the best cat videos on the web.
So who decides? Will Braden does. As Cat Video Festival Curator (yes, it's a real title), Braden sifts through the vast library of cat videos on YouTube each year to find the best clips. After four years of curation, he seems to have found his niche.
“I’ve learned to type ‘funny’ and ‘cat’ in a bunch of languages,” Braden said in an interview with Sky Blue Window. “I’ve seen videos that, if they had uploaded the title in English, would have 10 million views. But because it’s in, say, Hungarian, they don’t take off. But they’re still great. I like the idea that, when people come, they can see stuff they haven’t seen before.”
As the creator of the sensational “Henri, Le Chat Noir” series, Braden brings a level of expertise to the event that few others have. But it wasn't always that way.
Scott Stulen, the curator of audience experiences and performance at the IMA, founded the festival and organized its first installation back in 2012 at the Walker Art Center in Minnesota.
"The original idea was to to take the content on the internet and take it offline, into a social experience," said Stulen. "Cat videos seemed perfect. They have a certain universality to them. There’s something about them that's wrapped in joy."
He went on to explain that cat videos are unique in that there are no negative connotations like fail videos or memes--just a bunch of furry cats doing cat-things
The crowds have agreed. It's not just Indy that's gone cat-crazy. The international festival has been to almost 200 cities and 9 different countries this year.
Adding to the excitement at this stop, however, will be a special appearance by local celebrity Lil BUB and her human, Mike Bridavsky. For a flat $55, audience members can attend the Pre-Show Meet & Greet before the evening screenings. Proceeds go to Lil BUB's BIG Fund, a nonprofit that helps special needs pets, and IMA ARTx programming.
On the face of it, the IMA might seem like an odd location for such an event. After all, splicing hundreds of cat videos doesn’t exactly qualify as the kind of high art that the IMA typically hosts in galleries.
But Stulen doesn’t see this as a problem; quite the contrary, in fact.
“I think that juxtaposition is what makes it interesting. We can put on a program that’s really about joy and be just about watching cat videos together,” Stulen said. “That’s one of the more radical notions about a museum, that it can just be about joy.”
Though Stulen no longer heads up the festival, he has welcomed the event to Indianapolis with open arms. The torch has been passed to Will Braden with ease. And despite the festival beginning in Minnesota, its arrival to the IMA feels like a homecoming of sorts. For Stulen, the huge popularity of the festival only reinforces his views on museum curation.
“I would argue that museums should be bringing things that are relevant to their audiences. What’s more relevant than YouTube and cat videos?”