Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Special events October 9, 10, 23 (free with gallery admission of $6-$12)
Exhibit continues Wednesday - Sunday through January 31, $6-$12
A little more than ten years ago, on May 22, 2005, YouTube cofounder Steve Chen posted a video of his cat, Pajamas, on the new social media hub. It didn’t take long until felines ruled all of cyberspace with their unbelievable cuteness and nasty tempers, whether trying to squeeze into a glass vase, gliding through the kitchen on a Roomba, playing the piano, or sneaking up on their humans like a ninja in the night. Now they have descended upon Astoria, where they have taken over the Museum of the Moving Image. Through January 31, the Queens institution dedicated to the evolution of film and television is showing “How Cats Took Over the Internet,” a fun, if relatively slight, exploration of the history of the filming of pussycats, from Thomas Edison to Steve Chen to Grumpy Cat. The exhibit is divided into such sections as “Anthropomorphism,” “The Mediated Cat,” and “Watching Cats (and Seeing Ourselves),” includes a timeline that traces the phenomenon from Meowchat, Bonsai Kitten, and Cat Scan Contest to My Cat Hates You, Caturday, and Lolcats — I Can Has Cheezburger?, tracks the impressive number of hits on YouTube, Instagram, Buzzfeed, and Tumblr, and, most important, delves into the Happiness Factor. Because when hasn’t a video of a cat doing something so charmingly stupid brightened even your darkest day? And you might just find one of your favorites in the twenty-four-minute loop that kicks off the exhibition, featuring such cat-video classics as “Cool Cat / Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat! — THE ORIGINAL!,” “Dog Baths Cat,” “Henri 4 — L’Haunting,” “8 Signs of Addiction,” “Vinyl Cat,” and “Willie Is Better Than Your Cat.”
The museum will also be hosting several special events in conjunction with “How Cats Took Over the Internet.” On October 9 at 7:00, An Xiao Mina, Matt Stempeck, Ben Valentine, and Luis Daniel will be on hand for “Not Just Cats: Llamas, Goats, and Other Animal Memes from Around the World,” discussing how cats are treated (and worshiped) across the globe. On October 10 at 2:00, “The Cat-vant Garde Film Show” consists of fourteen cat shorts made by such experimental-film pioneers as Stan Brakhage (Nightcats, Cat’s Cradle), Pola Chapelle (How to Draw a Cat), Martha Colburn (Cat’s Amore), Alexander Hammid and Maya Deren (The Private Life of a Cat), and Ken Jacobs (Airshaft). Also on October 10 from 1:00 to 5:00, you can take home your own kitten at the ASPCA Mobile Adoption Event. And on October 23 at 7:00, Kevin Allocca, Amanda Brennan, and Jack Shepherd will be at the museum for “Internet Cat Experts Tell All,” letting us know why we can’t stop watching and laughing at this endless supply of adorable and frightening kitty vids.