In 2007, a blogger from Hawaii named Eric Nakagawa asked the internet an important question. That question helped to pioneer a brand new channel by which people consumed information online. That question was ‘I Can Has Cheezburger?‘ And from that moment, cats captured our attention. They conquered the internet, appearing in every conceivable form and medium.
It seems like decades since cat memes, cat photos, and cat videos have been as universally loved as they were in 2009, but their popularity, though decreased, remains strong. The idea and the history behind the rise of cat-related online humor is the focus of ‘How Cats Took Over the Internet,’ a video exhibit that opened at Astoria‘s Museum of the Moving Image on Friday, and will be open until January 31st.
The exhibit, taking up the museum’s amphitheater, “tells the history of cats online, examining phenomena like Caturday, lolcats, cat videos, celebrity cats, and more to unearth why images and videos of the feline kind have transfixed a generation of web users,” according to a press release.
The exhibit, which features a running loop of cat videos and a virtual timeline of events from the first appearances of cats on the internet to the present day, is meant to be humorous. It explores the enormous popularity and social pull of something so comparably frivolous, say, a cat trying to leap off a chair and falling spectacularly to the floor.
The peak popularity of cat memes was of course before the advent of Twitter, and meme-sourcing websites like Reddit and Buzzfeed. “How Cats Took Over the Internet” may bring back a few memories of those few years when people shared memes through forwarded emails, and you could always count on finding a cat in your inbox every morning.