Jeff Scher's animations bring whimsy to the newspaper's otherwise serious section.
If you've never seen artist/filmmaker Jeff Scher's New York Times Op-Ed columns, that's because they live exclusively on the web, which is a shame for those who only read the paper. Yet it would not be possible for Scher's quirky pictorial commentaries to be seen in the Times if not for the web, since they literally move about. His columns are animated contributions to the "Opinionator" blog section, combining old film techniques and experimental digital technology with personal impressions of New York life, the most recent being "Leaf and Death," a Busby Berkeleyesque dance of the season's fallen leaves. It is an example of what Scher calls a vest-pocket epiphany: "The little things that represent the bigger picture of living now in New York City."
Scher's imagery premiered on Opinionator in May 2007, a month after the Times made what Scher calls "a crazy offer to make short films of my choosing for the online opinion page." With a passion for puns, his first was "L'eau Life," about people in water. It garnered a good response, and he was asked to make more. "I think the pieces lighten the otherwise inherently cranky nature of the Opinion section by providing a kind of reassurance to the reader that it's still okay to be a member of the species," Scher says. "My films are akin to flowers at a funeral, or maybe a flower in the buttonhole of the undertaker. I get occasional letters thanking me for the relief they supply."