Joseph Cornell’s Untitled (c. 1955) from the Solar Soap Bubble Set series unites art, science, and chance. Its rich midnight background recalls Cornell’s surroundings in his lifelong home on Utopia Parkway that, “like the blue glass over some of the boxes, or the blue filter through which his movies were projected,…enhanced distance, dissolved the walls of the house into that ‘azur’ Cornell seemed to need for many of his most ambitious voyages” (B. O’Doherty, Joseph Cornell, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York, December 1986-January 1987, p. 12). The soliform ball joins the artist in his voyage by traversing metal rods strung atop a mischievous cherub, clay pipe, liqueur glass and row of upturned nails. Overseen by the smiling sun himself against a celestial array, Cornell’s universe exists in perpetual equilibrium, a static interrupted only by the sphere’s potential movement toward the twisted brass bangle. Where one sees aesthetic wonder, another witnesses a dialogue with the great Copernicus, and yet another travels to the ring toss at Coney Island. Cornell’s personal history appears too, in the pipe purchased from the Dutch Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as an homage to his family’s heritage. But is it merely an ancestral nod, or does the object also encapsulate the more recent time Cornell spent picking through treasures during his time at the Fair? Has the artist captured two histories in one? Thus, Cornell simultaneously compresses and expands time – in this box, past and future collapse into the present.