Sing Glitchy Karaoke Over The Internet

<p>An in-depth interview with expert kludgers and <span class="caps">GLTI</span>.CH Karaoke founders Kyoung Kim and Daniel Rourke.</p>

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Oct 17 2011, 8:21pm

London-based conspirators Kyoung Kim and Daniel Rourke are on a mission to kludge and con the world into partaking in an internet-based, 24-hour karaoke marathon. We spoke to them to find out more about what that means, exactly.

The Creators Project: How would you describe GLTI.CH in four words without using karaoke?
GLTI.CH
: Collaborative technological error wallowing.

What exactly is GLTI.CH and what is it trying to do?
GLTI.CH is about kludging. A kludge is a make-do solution to an immediate technical problem, like stopping a table from wobbling by folding a napkin and shoving it under one leg. It’s not a hack or some fancy programming. It's looking at technology as a building block, not an end product. We’re wannabe hackers, but we're amateur programmers at best. It approaches technology like Lego blocks and GLTI.CH Karaoke is the mishmashed world we make through play. We want to kludge people together, breach hopeless distances with cultural and technical make-dos.

Karaoke has a liberating potential. Before it was about achieving the right notes or knowing the words by heart, but karaoke is about togetherness first and foremost. A pop song can become an emotional center of gravity for the people in the room, even for a generation. So GLTI.CH is aiming to hijack that, to turn a “make-do” into a cherished moment.

And GLTI.CH is also FUN. Especially when there's beer. Lots of beer.

What were your inspirations and motivations for starting this?
We were drinking in a pub and our conversation led to karaoke, and how we both love it. With karaoke, you don’t have to be an expert singer. It’s a fun, healthy embarrassment for all. It’s shared embarrassment that’s fun, not miserable.

A good karaoke joint in London is not the easiest thing to find, and when you go, it’s a big hassle. [The setup is] not Korean (noraebang) style—aka renting a private room for a few hours with friends. From there, we talked about karaokeing on YouTube. We then wondered what if people did it over Skype, and things just kept on developing from there.

We’re both interested in hijacking "glitches" in our work. A glitch is a visual or auditory manifestation of a technological or software limitation. Something within the system that fails and produces an aesthetically significant result, for instance, dropped calls, pixelated video images, restrictive bandwidth, weather. We were curious to see if all of that could be a springboard for creativity rather than being seen as negative—resulting in new forms of karaoke, in new songs, in new ways of sharing information, in creating new videos, in new experiences and a new way of thinking about the stuff we use on a daily basis for something other than the reasons why we use them.

Embracing the errors, the time lags and feeding them back into the activity of karaoke seemed natural. Karaoke is as much about the notes you can’t hit as the ones you can. Very soon, the two motivations seemed uniquely intertwined. The internet offers us so many ways to kludge things together. So, our initial motivation was to see if it was actually possible to [host a] karaoke duet with friends in Japan, and it was. So now our motivation is to give people anywhere and everywhere the impetus to kludge together their own GLTI.CH Karaoke events.

What sort of hardware and software do you use?
Off the shelf stuff: personal computers, email, texting, Facebook, Twitter. We’ve used Skype pretty consistently, and experimented with other software along the way. Livestream has a lot of benefits, as does Google+. And then there is the karaoke utopia of YouTube. We like the idea of picking and choosing tools from the plethora and kludging them together. Laptops, webcams, projectors, microphones and amplifiers are easy to come by, but our favorite hardware is probably the spaces we populate with people. GLTI.CH Karaoke can happen at a gallery, in an abandoned basement or at a garden BBQ. Each space enables a different quality of kludge.

When can we look forward to the next GLTI.CH session?
Very soon…. October 27th! You can look forward to the awesomeness at 7pm GMT. We’ll be hooking up London and Liverpool via our partners Nathan Jones and Sam Meech. This is the first event we’ve done with synchronized time zones, and our first GLTI.CH Karaoke exclusive performance by Ross Sutherland.

GLTI.CH Karaoke will also be part of the the humungoid GLI.TC/H 2011 COMMUNIQUÉ on November 4th and 5th between London and Chicago.

But honestly, GLTI.CH is always online. Just tune in to our webstream (glti.ch/web-stream) and you can sing along 24 hours a day.

How do you see GLTI.CH changing or expanding in the future?
Our goal is to do a 24-hour marathon with several locations throughout the world. To have people do GLTI.CH on their own and share them with us as well as the other way around. We don’t own the rights to any of this technology, any of the songs or even the ideas. We just dug some foundations and hope people will build on them. There is no way we can do that just the two of us, but you see, karaoke gets people excited. Everyone is a natural kludger. GLTI.CH is also a [concept] we want to push beyond karaoke. Kludging, embracing errors, bringing people together—that all sounds like art to us.