That Friday feline: Lolcats given cultural recognition at last

An exhibition of and by funny cats opens tomorrow at The Photographer's Gallery in London

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The Independent Culture

Cute, furry, amusing. What’s not to like about funny cats? Since the dawn of the internet humanity has shared and laughed at many a fuzzy feline in photographic or video form. So much so that the ‘Lolcats’ meme has entered common parlance (for those living under a rock, and David Cameron,  ‘lol’ stands for ‘laugh out loud’ not ‘lots of love’).

But, say The Photographer’s Gallery, the viral phenomenon of funny cats has up to now “largely been overlooked as a significant cultural form”. This oversight is to be addressed from tomorrow when the gallery opens an exhibition entirely dedicated to photography of cats being silly and  (as if that weren’t funny enough), photographs actually taken by said silly cats.

LOL of Cats: Felines, Photography and the Web which opens tomorrow will focus on a number of contemporary cat trends. These include cat scanning (not the medical procedure), in-bread cats (where moggy’s face is pushed into a slice of Hovis) and cat shaming (which The Independent doesn’t understand).

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Exhibition organisers reveal that the first appearance of Lolcats can be traced back to imageboards such as 4Chan. Among the examples on show will be Helene Dams’ I can has history? a net art piece attempting to map a Lolcat family tree which traces online memes such as Longcat, Serious Cat, Happy Cat and Breaded Cats back to their origins.

Feline photographers Cooper (USA) and Nancy Bean (UK) have also been commissioned by the gallery to snap a cat’s eye view. Cameras affixed to their collars automatically go off, giving perspectives from within tall grass, of underneath tables and chairs, and the occasionally fuzzy underview of an adoring owner.

It also catalogues "celebrity cats" such as Maru (pictured), whose online following is estimated in the millions after his life was documented on a blog by his owner.

LOL of Cats: Felines, Photography and the Web from 12 October to 16 January 2013, The Photographer’s Gallery, London,