It was unofficially Cat Day for thousands who came out to the Walker Art Center to participate in the Internet Cat Video Film Festival on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014.
“The first time we had it, we thought a couple hundred people would come,” said Sarah Schultz, curator of public practice for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn. “It evolved as a project, called Open Field, to invite people do yoga, cyanotype photography or whatever their imagination leads them to.”
The event was entirely cat-themed, with beer and cocktails with names like Sourpuss and Tabby Cat and the most outgoing individuals took part in creating cat poetry, while wearing funny shirts with all sorts of references to their love of the species.
It’s something you do in the privacy of your home, when you pop open your laptop and tune into a playlist of YouTube videos featuring cute cats performing tricks and nuzzling babies. Schultz shared some insight as to why people can’t get enough of watching cat videos.
“It’s an intergenerational thing. People from all walks of life watch these videos; there is even someone from L.A. who flew all the way out here for the festival. You know, if you watch animals for a few minutes each day, it alters your mood. That’s why people love it, it makes them feel good.”
There is something artsy about this generation. People are open to sharing their feelings and their art by expressing themselves online through Twitter and Instagram and now they’re coming together in real life to share their passion for cats.
“We did a little crowd sourcing and it went viral on the internet. We just wanted to bring people together to watch these videos,” Schultz said.
And she did just that. Over 10,000 people camped out on the field with their blankets and coolers, waiting for dusk to fall and the videos to begin.
It all started three years ago, with Henri, le chat noir and his compilation of 70 minutes of video highlighting the many wonders of the cat world. He won the first Golden Kitty Award from the festival and is now touring the globe, while writing a book about cat videos.
Lil’ Bub, celebrity in the cat video industry, made a special appearance Thursday night and Paul and TJ, from An Engineer’s Guide to Cats held a Q&A.
The pair have a YouTube channel where they discuss cats in an engineering sense. Paul said they are now working on making a movie about their feline friends and the technology of the future.
During the festival, the Walker museum was also open to the public, featuring art from the black cultural revolution and Robert Nelson’s 30-minute film, “Bleu Shut,” was shown on repeat within the main building.
For more information about the annual internet cat video festival and the Walker Art Center, visit walkerart.org