Rolling Amnesia and the Omnivorous Now: Jeff Scher’s You Won’t Remember This Trilogy (2007–2011)
Abstract: Throughout his career, New York-based experimental filmmaker and animator Jeff Scher has created animated works that are in dialogue with the diary film tradition in avant-garde cinema. Scher uses his distinctive single-frame rotoscope and collage animation technique to investigate the selective nature of memory and to celebrate the moments that constitute everyday life. Scher’s animated trilogy, You Won’t Remember This (2007), You Won’t Remember This Either (2009), and You Might Remember This (2011), depicts a series of everyday moments in the early childhoods of his two sons Buster and Oscar. The trilogy is centred on the mnemonic phenomenon that is referred to in developmental and cognitive psychology as childhood amnesia, which has presented problems for the philosophy of memory since John Locke first investigated the roles of memory and consciousness in the constitution of the identity of the self. Scher’s three portraits invite spectators to reflect on the mnemonic imbalance that is specific to this particular temporal situation—where the parent is able to remember what the child will ultimately forget—in both a distilled and heightened way. This paper investigates the ways in which the rotoscope collage technique employed by Scher in the You Won’t Remember This trilogy not only endows the works with a special capacity to emphasise the universal nature of childhood amnesia but also, conversely, resembles the phenomenological experience of remembering itself.