The automated Twitter account @PépitoTheCat documents the comings and goings of a housecat. It tweets “Pépito is out” each time the cat exits his cat door, with a photograph and timestamp documenting this act. Upon Pépito’s return, a follow-up tweet announces “Pépito is back home”, accompanied by a photograph and timestamp marking Pépito’s re-entry through the catflap. While this in some respects innocuous, Pépito the cat is indicative of a particular aesthetic that is importantly, yet very tangentially, connected to realism. And far from being alone, around 200.000 other accounts follow—and frequently reply to— this chronicle of Pépito’s daily activities.
@PépitoTheCat reflects back to us an ambivalent objective truth. The media ecosystem as it exists currently is built on the premises of understanding the world through apparatuses of measurement and observation. But Pépito also demonstrates the close connection between the world as known through data and the arbitrary nature of such scales of measure. In this way, I find the tangential realism and connection to materiality expressed in @PépitoTheCat’s posts taps into a growing sentiment that is shaping new visual aesthetics. It combines aspects of the empirical outlook descended from traditions of realism and objectivity with elements of the absurd. We are not about to reject realism outright, yet we see that data, on its own, has no inherent claims to truthfulness, and even the most accurate of instruments may be easily coopted for the purpose of stupid fun.
(excerpt from the book)
The Tangential Realism of @PepitoTheCat
book chapter published in The Book of X. edited by Miguel Carvalhais, André Rangel, Luísa Ribas, Mario Verdicchio. Porto: i2ADS, 2022.
ISBN: 978-989-9049-26-0 (PDF) 978-989-9049-25-3 (Paperback)