Today I read about an exhibition that has just opened in London devoted to the online phenomenon of amusing cats – the phenomenon known as lolcats.
What are lolcats? This is the first time I’d ever heard the term. The word itself is a mixture of ‘lol’ (laugh out loud) and cat (small domesticated carnivorous mammal). It seems that these lolcats are feline-inspired, often humorous, artistic creations. There are even websites devoted to the ‘lolcat’ community. Members use their own lolcat language based on the way cats might communicate if they used English (a kind of kitty pidgin). What’s more, there is a website which allows you to translates from English to lolcat in case you aren’t well versed in it just yet. Is this a bit bonkers or is it art?
Lolcat: teh exhibishun (sic) started yesterday (23 January) and runs to 15 February at The Framers Gallery in London. Funds raised from artwork sold at the event will go to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
This exhibition has generated a debate as to whether an internet meme (defined as a concept, phrase, word, video, image or idea that spreads like a virus over the internet) is a legitimate subject for art or not. The lolcat is one such internet meme.
The exhibition brings together, in words taken from the exhibition’s website ‘cool cats and witty kitties’ created by graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, artists, animators, and writers. Each exhibitor has come up with their unique take on the cat theme to create a piece of amazing ‘lolcat’ art.
If you google ‘lolcat’ the majority of images that get thrown up are very similar photographs of cats in ‘funny’ poses with a witty caption written in ‘lolcat’ language. That isn’t art.
Looking at some of the exhibited pieces, however, I think they are art. This is art inspired by the lolcat phenomenon.
BBC News item on LOLCAT: TEH EXHIBISHUN