Thursday, 11 January 2018


New improvised vocal and sound performance by me, tomorrow evening (I'm on at 7:00pm approx event starts approx 6:30) as part of the Frivolous Convulsions (more info here) show at Turf Projects (map) in Croydon.
My people are cowardly, supine; Liars on official forms, to pollsters And census takers And I am of them All those I know lucked into birth (we didn’t earn it) And gummed the teat of state as soon As we could draw a stolen breath Oxygen dole snatched From the striving lungs Of decent folk.
The piece is a response to Rimbaud's prose poem Bad Blood and also of course, as ever, to the Bike Cemetery inscriptions. As far as the Rimbaud goes, I was particularly struck by this:
Not a family in Europe I don’t know. – I mean families like mine, who owe it all to the declaration of the Rights of Man.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Image copyright Zenopress 2017

Achilles often raises a sweaty fist to squint through sweat or rain at the display of his smart watch placidly blinking information on his heart rate, pulse, steps taken – many and too many – speed, direction. The watch dutifully uploads this to a website every minute, where he recalls - he thinks he recalls - algorithms collate it into graphs and tables every twenty four hours. He imagines brightly coloured horizontal lines crawling across the screen describing peaks and troughs, intersected by black verticals describing heart rate over distance, strides over time, breaths over heart rate. It was part of some sponsorship deal or other. He’s forgotten by now with whom or what the deal was made.

The brief excerpt above is from a piece of prose in a new anthology which is just out from Zeno Press. All the work in it is inspired by, or related to one of Zeno's paradoxes. Mine takes Achilles and the Tortoise as its starting point. My fellow contributors are:

Richard Skinner 
Maria Fusco 
Steven J Fowler 
John Boursnell
Liz Zumin 
Paolo Inverni 
Jeremy Evans
Nicola Woodham
Claudia Kappenberg 
Giovanna Coppola
Clover Peake
Tasha Haines 
Christian Patracchini

Get hold of it from here. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017


New acquisition - a friction beater, otherwise known as a flumi. I tried a DIY version using a superball (rubber bouncing ball), but the first attempt split the ball and the second, the ball was too slick to get much purchase on a surface to make a noise. Either sanding the superball down or getting ones that have some sort of matt textured surface is probably the answer. The flexibility of the handle is also an important factor, the ball vibrates against the surface and anything too stiff isn't going to facilitate vibration. My second attempt was to screw a superball to the fat end of a drumstick - in addition to the too-smooth surface, the rigidity of the stick wasn't going to help. The other thing that I have discovered, and that any proper drummer/percussionist would have told me, is that one's grip on the beater has a distinct effect on the sound; obvious, now. Anyway, it's a great thing and I've discovered a number of objects/surfaces that can be made to resonate, in a slightly unsettling way, in some cases. The bannisters of the staircase in my building being an example - 3 storeys of steel reverberating with a low frequency howl down the stairwell. I will be doing more of this and having another attempt at making my own flumis in a variety of sizes.

A post shared by Robin Bale (@balerobin) on

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


The Patterers

Further details to be announced in the next week or two.

Saturday, 10 June 2017


A valedictory iteration of some of the - now sadly occluded - inscriptions on the Bike Cemetery wall. This video was taken at the Bike Cemetery on a Sunday in May 2017.
WOLF VANISH from robin bale on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


My performance at the Flows event at the Vibe Gallery in 2013. My idea was to set up a dialectic between my non-verbal vocal performance and a text I had written for the occasion, copies of which were handed out to the audience. I reproduce the text below the video player.

(Text written for Flows, an event exploring the interface of performance and writing at the Vibe Gallery on the 2nd of December 2013)
Of course, we write all the time. We read all the time. We inscribe and decode constantly; processes which cannot easily be separated. The assumption that they are separate comes from an assumption inherent in writing – that writing is done at a distance; the distance of the writer from the reader, temporarily, spatially or both. As if there was a primal closeness that was temporarily lost and must be replaced – as if there was ever a place to be, except where we are not.
It is worth cosidering distance. Do I write myself with speech, simultaneously reading myself back – hearing myself? To do this, I must be somewhere else, looking back. 
If it is writing, it can be read. It can be read it can be read because it has already been written and that is how we can find a way through the thicket of cacography, misprints and spelling mistakes, stutters and burps, cries. Cacography is endemic. The world is a writing made with broken fingers that we nonetheless navigate via the recognition that we share its fractures.
A forest of cacography.
Writing with broken fingers.
The tongue stumbles, convulses.

[…] “communication” in much contemporary discourse exists as a sort of ill formed, and differentiated conceptual germplasm. Rarely has any idea been so infested with platitudes. Commuication is good, mutuality is good, more sharing is better; these seemingly obvious dicta, because unexamined sweep too much under the rug. […] “communication” has become the property of politicians and bureaucrats, tehnologists and therapists, all eager to demonstrate their rectitude as good communicators, its popularity has exceeded its clarity.
[…] in classical rhetorical theory communicatio was also a technical term for a stylistic device in which an orator assumes the hypothetical voice of the adversary or audience; communicatio was less authentic dialogue than the simulation of dialogue by a single speaker.
John Durham Peters Speaking into the air

[Gossolalia…] this fiction of language does not cease to be taken for a language and treated as such. It is ceaselessly obliged “to mean” something. It excites an unwarying impulse to decrypt and to decipher that always supposes a meaningful organization behind the sequence of sounds. The history of glossolalia is made up almost entirely of interpretations that aim to make it speak in sentences and that claim to restore this vocal delinquency to an order of signifieds. In our era in the West, from the interpretation of the glossolalia of the Pentecost given in Acts of the Apostles (“pious men of all nations” understood “in their own languages”) down to Fredinand de Saussure or to psychoanalysis, the serious and jublilant play of speech always receives a rather clever hermeneutic response that reduces the “want to say” to a “want to say something”.

The history of this equivocation goes back to relations that, since antiquity, Reason has maintained with Fable while usurping its place. The scholarly hermeneutic effects a substitution of bodies: in the very space established by Fable, it replaces the spoken story with the content of its own analysis. Western modernity developed the sleight of hand in all of its forms of ethnological, psychiatric and pedagogical exegesis as if it were necessary to write in the place where “that” speaks. Savage voices and voices of the people, mad voices and infantile voices define the places where it becomes possible and necessary to write. Voices furnish the hermeneutic with its condition of production, that is, with the sites it occupies where it converts them to text. In face of the glossolalic chain, the hermeneutic work mobilizes its scientific apparatus. But in so doing, it unveils the belief that animates it. Whereas glossolalia postulates that somewhere there is speech, interpretation supposes that somewhere there must be meaning. Interpretation searches for meaning, and it finds it because it expects it to be there, because interpretation relies on the conviction that especially where meaning appears to be absent, it is hidden someplace, present “all the same” thus, the hermeneutic pursues its object most obstinately in those non-sense places where it postulates “secret languages.”
Michel De Certeau Vocal Utopias: Glossolalias

It seems that the “illegible” must have a twin; but I have no common (or uncommon) word for signfying that which cannot be written upon. It is as if the idea of something as unreceptive to inscription was beyond thought, or as if the idea of being a something -  at all- is predicated on its hospitality to our writing.
It is, at first, strange that the idea of a thing that cannot be read has its part in language, but that which cannot be written on is denied the name. But it is exactly this quality that bans it.