Catch a falling star

With her video installations, photographs, and short films, Australian artist Lynette Wallworth creates communal environments that respond, like natural ecosystems, to human presence. At her current show at the British Film Institute (open June 23-September 2), her new work, Hold: Vessel 2, invites visitors to carry a lens-shaped glass bowl through a cavernous room. By moving through the darkness with a ritualistic posture of supplication and offering, viewers 'catch' projected still and moving images of microscopic underwater life forms and deep outer space. Participants inevitably interact with each other; the artist structures her works to 'encourage temporary interdependence.' While her user interface is simple and transparent, Wallworth's collaborations with specialists in contemporary scientific visioning technologies--the BIO-Rad confocal laser scanning microscope, X-ray Microtomography, and remotely operated light-sensitive cameras--reveal images of the world that are invisible to the naked eye. Placing the human subject at the nexus of a microcosm and a macrocosm largely outside the reach of everyday experience, the artist offers access to those wondrous hidden realms while hinting at the infinite 'unknown unknowns' beyond. Hold: Vessel 2 is a visceral reminder of our interconnectedness within the vast and complex system of the universe--a feeling which, according to the artist, is 'a useful sensation to achieve.' - Marcia Tanner