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Music for Plants Disappearing

  • Pilot + Projects 1719 North 5th Street, 19122 (map)

February 9, 2019 - March 8, 2019

Pilot+Projects is pleased to announce Music for Plants Disappearing, a two person exhibition featuring the work of Brooklyn-based artist Heidi Norton and Providence-based artist Tony Balko.  Taking its name from a 1970s series of electronic "plant music" projects (exemplified by Mort Garson's, Plantasia), the works in this exhibition are connected through an interest in natural phenomenon, New Age aesthetics, and a desire to amplify the fluidity of images through imposing spatial and lens-based visual trickery.  Here the static impression of the picture plane is assaulted or deconstructed in order to make way for the emotive qualities of color and texture, in anticipation of warmer days to come.  

In Norton’s mixed-media investigations, elements such as wax, resin, and plant matter are suspended within prepared glass and acrylic sheets, often employing art-historical perspectival motifs alongside New-Age inspired geometries.  Images align and dissolve in forced perspective to produce complex color and material relationships within the picture plane.  The viewer is placed in the space of the photographer, creating the "fixed image." Differing from Norton’s photographic images, here the viewer must simultaneously look on and through the works from an anterior perspective.  Norton teases the relationship between image and object-- that they are often fluid, cyclical and malleable, where the constant latency/fluxus nature of ecology is revealed.

Balko’s abstract video Emotional Sundiving follows a group of individuals staring at the sun in silent meditation before ascending into psychedelic dream-space.  Scenes of a diver falling to the bottom of the ocean in simulated death give way to a chromophilic, stroboscopic color field in an agressive, yet somehow warming visual assault.  Considering the promises of the New Age as a path towards total fulfillment, Balko imagines the potential of the sun’s rays transmuted into the stuff of life or through the power of belief, where eyes may find looking difficult, yet, simultaneously inviting.  Accompanying are two more videos, which document and expand on Balko’s ‘disco ball’ sculpture series, whose message, if anything, is to keep an eye on how much you still party.

Heidi Norton (American, born 1977, lives NYC) is an artist and writer whose 1970’s upbringing as a child of New Age homesteaders in West Virginia resulted in a strong connection to the land, plant life and nature. She received her BFA from University of Maryland, Baltimore and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most recent illustrated essay, The Faceless Plant: A Sketch for Timothy Morton, is published in the fall print issue of BOMB Magazine. Solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst Art Museum, Monique Meloche Gallery Chicago, among others. Select group exhibitions include Regina Rex NY, Eastern Michigan University, Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, the Knitting Factory, Chicago Cultural Center, Ohio State University, Gallery 400 University of Illinois Chicago, La Box Gallery National School of Art France. Her writings and work are include in Art21, BOMB Magazine, Journal for Artistic Research, Grafts by Michael Marder, and the newly released, Why Look at Plants ed. by Giovanni Aloi. She is an adjunct professor at FIT and International Center of Photography. 

Tony Balko is an artist and educator from Smithton, Pennsylvania.  He works in a variety of mediums across a wide-range of subject matter, often delving into psychedelic, ecstatic, and excessive vibes.  A two-time Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship recipient, his work has been exhibited internationally at venues including The Museum of Modern Art (NYC), The Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,  Experimenter Gallery (Kolkata, India), and the Roadburn Festival (Tilburg, Netherlands) - with solo/duo exhibitions at Slow Gallery (Chicago), The Dirt Palace (Providence), The Nightingale (Chicago), Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and 21C Museum (Louisville) among others.  Balko’s work has been featured in publications such as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Inside/Within, Bad at Sports,, and  A frequent collaborator with a variety musicians, he has worked closely with A.E. Paterra on numerous projects, made music videos for Sharon Needles, Wax Fang, and Oneida, and has done live visual performances with Zombi, Majeure, Alex Barnett, Pere Ubu, Rah Digga and more.  Balko received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a BA from the University of Pittsburgh.  Currently, he is a lead Information Technologist and Adjunct Professor at the University of Rhode Island, and a long time volunteer at the ACRE artist residency program.

Pilot + Projects

1719 N 5th St, Philadelphia PA, 19122

Earlier Event: February 9
Joshua Graupera - blockadia.sim
Later Event: February 10
Art at Mission Talk: Amberella