Nancy Reisman & Jonathan Rattner — “Postcards from the Vanishing Point”


   The collaboration grew out of a regular gathering of Vanderbilt campus artists at the University’s Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities. The group came together to foster connection and exchange across fields, offer early-stage project responses, and create a deliberately non-evaluative space in which to discuss both work and process.  After several semesters, four of us – filmmaker Jonathan Rattner, composer Stan Link, theater director Leah Lowe, and writer Nancy Reisman – embarked on a project including visual, textual, musical, and theatrical performance elements. It seemed like it would be fun, and it was.

   A February 2023 works-in-progress night performance at Blair School of Music brought together Jonathan’s photographs; Stan’s compositions in response to the photographs, played by faculty oboist Jared Hauser; Nancy’s texts in response to the photographs, read by Leah; and accompanying movements developed by Leah and undergraduate actors Lindsey Carroll and Maxwell Tong, performed by Lindsey and Maxwell. We called the project Postcards from the Vanishing Point.    

   For the photograph/text version of Postcards from the Vanishing Point offered here, we – Jonathan and Nancy – are most grateful to our collaborators Stan Link and Leah Lowe.

  Here Jonathan speaks more specifically about the photographs:   

     These photographs were shot with a Lomography 35mm La Sardina camera.  The La Sardina is a fixed lens, fixed aperture “toy camera.” In my practice, I’m concerned with creating a heightened sensory experience for myself during production and for the viewer with the final artistic form. I used LomoChrome 35mm Purple and Metropolis film stock for this series. Using these filmstocks with the LaSardina camera allowed the product to challenge the “normal” often expected use of photographs. The camera and the film stock often produce unexpected and non-representational results.

Jonathan Rattner is a filmmaker and artist who primarily produces experimental nonfiction films and videos employing a mixture of documentary and lyrical filmic elements. He has exhibited work in galleries, microcinemas, festivals, and universities internationally, including the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Centre of Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, L’Alternativa in Barcelona, Anthology Film Archives in New York, among others. He is an Associate Professor of Cinema & Media Arts and Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nancy Reisman is the author of the novels Trompe L’Oeil and The First Desire (a NYT Notable book) and the short story collection House Fires (Iowa Short Fiction Award).  Her prose has also appeared in several journals and anthologies, among them New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, Five Points, Best American Short Stories, and O.Henry Award Stories. She teaches in Vanderbilt’s Creative Writing Program and lives in Nashville.

Stan Link’s musical life began when he was three and heard The Doors’ “Light My Fire” on the AM car radio in his mother’s Mercury Comet convertible in 1967. He began playing trumpet at the age of nine and composing at sixteen. After attending the Oberlin Conservatory, the Vienna Hochschule für Musik, and Princeton University. teaching music took him to La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and finally to Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where he is the Associate Professor of the Composition, Philosophy and Analysis of Music. Along with composition and music theory he gives interdisciplinary courses on subjects ranging from film music, sound and silence to disability and art. With the technology as both a frequent collaborator and nemesis, his musical compositions include works for soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestra and ballet—although none of it so far has been nearly as good as “Light My Fire” sounded in 1967, playing on the AM radio of his mother’s Comet convertible.

Oboist Jared Hauser has been described as “melodious and spontaneous” by ArtsNash, and as a “sensitive, elegant soloist” with a “subtle refined style” by Gramaphone Magazine. Hauser maintains an international stature as performing and teaching artist, and was appointed to the faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in 2008, where he serves as Associate Professor. A great proponent of new music, Hauser has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous works by many of today’s brightest composers. Hauser is currently on the teaching faculties at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the National Music Festival. He performs with the Blair Woodwind Quintet, the Nashville Opera’s orchestra, and Nashville-based contemporary music group Intersection. He also performs on historical oboes with Music City Baroque and other early-music groups across the southeastern United States.