The modern cat video was invented in 1994 by French multimedia artist Chris Marker

If you know the work of Chris Marker, you probably discovered it through La jetée, his 1962 short that tells a Vertigo-referencing, 12 Monkeys-inspiring tale of apocalypse, time-travel, inevitable love, and inevitable death — using mostly still photographs. Or maybe you know it through Sans soleil, his 1982 feature-length essay-film whose geographical reach — not to mention intellectual reach — extends from Iceland to Paris to San Francisco to Guinea-Bissau to Japan.

 Chris Marker with his kitteh, Guillaume-en-Egypte.


Chris Marker with his kitteh, Guillaume-en-Egypte.

But Marker, who died in 2012 after a long life and career, produced a great deal more than those two three-decades-separated masterworks. Everyone has their own favorites among the rest; I myself hold a candle for Le mystère Koumiko, a thoughtful profile of a young lady he made during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the top, though, we have another of Marker's particularly influential pieces: the first modern cat video.

Play him off, Chris Marker Cat.


Play him off, keyboard Cat.

Marker loved cats — that much becomes obvious when you watch most any of his movies. (The camera-shy filmmaker even used a cartoon cat as his alter-ego.) In 1994's Cat Listening to Music, Marker and his feline friend Guillaume-en-Egypte forge one of the forms that would come to dominate the realm of the internet. No wonder Alain Resnais called Marker "the prototype of the 21st-century man."

Clearly, humanity has begun to catch up to Marker. We've even picked up his enthusiasm for owls, meaning that we now have only to live up to his vision of the modern owl video:

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