A recent New York Times article chronicled the rise of a company called the Cheezburger Network, the enterprise behind the popular blog of humorously captioned photographs of cats, or LOLcats. Images from the blog have been flying around the Internet for the last few years, most notably one of a cat paired with the caption “I can has cheezburger?”
The company, which has since expanded into other lowbrow photo and video blogs, will generate a seven-figure sum this year. If you think that a company called Cheezburger generating $1 million in revenue is a sign of impending apocalypse, let us remember that this is not the first time cats have played a role in the building of an empire. In 1894 Thomas A. Edison, Inc. recorded a film reel of two cats boxing entitled The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton’s). Cats, it would seem, are perfectly suited to a mediated existence.
Artists, in turn, have not ignored the phenomenon. The British artist Mark Leckey recently posted online Flix, an animation of what appears to be the tail of the 1920s animation star Felix the Cat. Although seemingly abstract, the work itself may have roots in the culture of “I can has cheezburger?” When recently asked in an interview on Rhizome.org if he spends a lot of time browsing the Web, Leckey replied, “That’s all I do.”