Cats are back!
In reality they never really left. Since last August, when the First Internet Cat Video Festival debuted at the Walker Art Center, the interest and intrigue with the program has only increased. Here are some “cat stats” to give context to the feline fim fascination. The Internet Cat Video Festival YouTube playlist is nearing a million views. Walker blog traffic for cat related posts has eclipsed 100,000, views, making it easily the most trafficked event in the past year. The cat related website traffic is actually so significant, it has skewed the overall yearly stats for the site. Catvidfest has inspired “copycat” festivals by small groups such as the Somerville, Massachusetts Arts Council, and much larger organizations including the Friskies Awards and Fresh Step’s Catdance festival and the Internet love affair with cats shows no signs of slowing. Even the new Monopoly piece is a cat...decided by an online vote. Jon Stewart even had a few things to say about it on the Daily Show.
Its not just cute kittens jumping in boxes
What does it all mean? This was one of the recurring questions after the success of the first Internet Cat Video Festival. It wasn’t just about watching cat videos, it was about watching cat videos together and it was about watching cat videos together at the Walker Art Center. Basically its about context. Watching cat videos with 10,000 in the shadow of a leading Contemporary Art Center is part of what makes it interesting. To answer some of these questions in more depth we speaking at where the internet gathers offline, the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin. Our session is titled #CATVIDFEST: Is this the end of Art? and co-organizer Katie Hill and I will speak to the fractious questions raised about the relevancy or ridiculousness of the event and the role of the curator in a crowd-sourced environment. Using #catvidfest as a case study, we will question what it means for a museum to reflect contemporary culture in the era of YouTube, explore the challenges traditional institutions face engaging online audiences and share what we learned from transforming a solitary online viewing experience into a real world social event. The session is kicking of the first day of SXSW and we anticipate a healthy discussion interspersed with cat videos. For more check out the recently posted interview new here.
Edited Crowd Sourcing
The original festival began with a simple invitation to nominate your favorite Internet cat video. Ten thousand nominations came pouring in. After countless hours of screening and careful editing the final cut was created. It was vitally important to openly crowdsource the content, but equally important to refine, edit and pace the final cut to be compelling and entertaining. We are again taking nominations for the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival. So track down those browser bookmark, do some quality “research” on your lunch break or better yet break out the camera and make your own video. Click here for the Nomination Form to put forward your favorite kitty clips.
Here is one of my personal early favorites for the 2013 festival. Slayer Cat
catvidfest on the road
One of the most unexpected outcomes post-festival was the number of inquires to re-stage the event. To date, over 50 inquires have been submitted from all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Officially the “catvidfest tour” started last fall with smaller events at UMASS Boston and The Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego. The spring tour tour kicks off tonight at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art with two already sold out screenings, followed by events in New York, Austin, Oakland and Portland all leading up to the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival at the Minnesota State Fair. As with the first #catvidfest, each of these festivals taps heavily into the community by partnering with local museums, cultural institutions, non-profits, animal resource groups and artist. To insure the context and spirit of the original festival is retained, we are working closely with each site to produce the festivals and learn further from this experiment. If you are interested in an event in your city, contact me.
Here is the Spring 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival Tour Lineup:
MEMPHIS: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Thursday, February 14, 2013 6-9 pm with screenings at 7 & 9.
Spend your Valentine’s Day at the Brooks for an evening of art-making activities, feline-inspired performances by Opera Memphis, music from DJ Superman, a cash bar, and two screenings of the Cat Internet Film Festival.
AUBURN, NY: Auburn Public Theater
Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, 2013
Screening Friday 8pm and Saturday 1pm and 8pm.
The Auburn Public Theater presents Cat Carnival, a weekend full of fun and games-all for a good cause. The Cat Carnival will be complete with face painting, trivia and games with kitty-friendly prizes fit for the whole family. The Finger Lakes SPCA and the CNY Cat Coalition will have tables set up with important information on the feline community both days. There will be a special talk by Scott Stulen from The Walker Art Center, one of the organizing members of the Internet Cat Video Festival and cats and kittens will be available for adoption!
AUSTIN, TX: SXSW Party and Screening with Animal Planet
Saturday, March 9th 5-7 pm
Fado on W 4th St
A cat-loving happy hour to please, cat lovers, online cat video watchers and all things feline. Animal Planet and the Walker Arts Center join forces to provide entertainment, cat themed cocktails, and chances to preview exclusive new (what else) cat videos. This indoor-outdoor event will feature live music, a showing of the top videos from the Walker Arts Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival, previews of the upcoming season of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell and the exclusive premiere of a new “Henri” video. Special guest Jackson Galaxy from My Cat from Hell will also be in attendance.
The Great Wall of Oakland will host the Bay Area premiere of the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival with an estimated 10,000 cat-lovers and friends celebrating felines and exploring the low-art of internet cat videos together, in real-time. West Grand between Telegraph and Broadway will transform into a cat-lovers wonderland with cat-themed events in every corner, including animal adoptions. Festival attendees can peruse cat products from a host of local vendors, sample delicious food from local food trucks, and participate in a plethora of cat-themed activities including a cat fashion show, cat trick demonstrations, cat art projects, cat-themed bands, and much more.
PORTLAND, OR: Cataclysm: Portland’s Internet Cat Film Festival
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland OR
Saturday, May 11, 2–10pm
More info in the coming weeks and months.