Thanks to critic and curator Ed Halter for pointing out this morning on Twitter that the Internet Dancing Baby meme would be 20 now if the baby were alive. Cray-cray. Cited as one of the earliest memes, “Baby Cha-Cha,” came to life in 1996 as viral video of a 3D-rendered baby dancing to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” by the Swedish rock band Blue Swede. By late 1996, web developer John Woodell created a highly compressed animated GIF from the original movie, as part of a demo of the movie-to-GIF process, which further launched its spread.
Since this time, we’ve seen the Dancing Internet Baby show up in seemingly countless places, including the AIDS 3D IMG MGMT essay Hubris/Nemesis/Whatever. We expect to see this ageless baby a lot more in the future too. It’s of historical importance, but it also harkens to all those weirdly shaped babies in Madonna and child paintings, which perhaps explains why it sits a little longer in our consciousness. It’s a creepy kid.