In Short:

GLTI.CH Karaoke is a collaborative mess between Kyougn Kmi and Daniel Rourke.

Kyougn Kmi and Daniel Rourke are artists, writers, wannabe hackers (amateur programmers at best). After meeting on the Goldsmiths Art Research Programme and swapping stories of a shared love of karaoke and technology, GLTI.CH Karaoke was born. Since April 2011 we’ve been exposing the course of accidents, temporal lyrical disjoints and technical out-of syncs. GLTI.CH Karaoke breaches hopeless distances with cultural and technical make-dos of readily available technology, to kluge people together in glitchy songfests. We’ve kludged together Seoul / Kumamoto with Meanwhile Space; Liverpool / London with MercyUK; Amsterdam / Chicago with glidottcslashh, and we wired up a Manchester hotel with Seoul / Amsterdam / Berlin as part of ANDfestival.

GLTI.CH Karaoke is not a hack or some fancy programming. It’s taking the front-end of things and trying to make something else. We’ve made the mishmashed world of GLTI.CH Karaoke through play and we hope you’ll sing with us.

Longer, with FEELING:

In April 2011 we held two GLTI.CH Karaoke events at Meanwhile Space [1] – a temporary, pop-up social events/ art space in Whitechapel, London. Our aim was simple: to bring together people and have them collaborate on Karaoke duets. This desire, of course, is not innovative in itself. Karaoke is one of the world’s favourite pastimes, carried out by millions of people all over the world. Where GLTI.CH was different is the scope of our ‘bringing together’. During a rendition of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead, as our new Japanese friends gathered to sing around a single laptop, we knew we’d created something special. The first event proved that Karaoke was a force capable of transcending language, cultural, physical and technical boundaries. GLTI.CH Karaoke was ready for bigger things.

GLTI.CH Karaoke was born.

Using free versions of Skype, YouTube and collaborative web software TinyChat, we orchestrate duets between people who had never met each other, who don’t speak the same language, bypassing thousands of geographic miles with glitchy, highly compressed data and a little bit of patience. Time delays are often minimal, even though we sometimes send our data over any 3G mobile network or hijacked WiFi router we can get our hands on. Arguments over what songs we’ll sing together are few and far between.


Seeming to sever their dependency on the physical processes that underlie them, digital technologies (according to Matthew Kirschenbaum) :

“incorporate hyper-redundant error-checking routines that serve to sustain an illusion of immateriality by detecting error and correcting it…” [2]

The alleviation of error and noise, is then, an implicit feature of digital materiality. Enabled by over-used compression software, images are forced to atrophy as they navigate multiple bandwidth streams. Artist and theorist Iman Moradi says:

“The visual glitch is an artefact resulting from an error. It is neither the cause, nor the error itself, it is simply the product of an error and more specifically its visual manifestation. It is a significant slip that marks a departure from our expected result.” [3]

Visual artists such as Hito Steyerl call for us to “tap into” [4] the power of the bruise and the glitch, in order to participate in the forces that compel contemporary digital-capital. In the 80s and 90s digital networks were talked about in utopian whispers. With the idea of the ‘original’ banished, corporate oligarchies could concentrate on distributing perfect digital simulacra to customer nodes. These processes, according to W. Daniel Hillis, define:

“the essence of digital technology, which restores signal to near perfection at every stage.” [5]

Maintenance of the network and the routines of error management thus became of primary economic concern: control the networks and the immaterial products would manage themselves.


In the case of digital images, error-managed at every stage of their transmission, it is at the level of the visual that glitches become manifest. Code-savvy artists do not see a visual glitch as an aesthetic abhorrence, but as a signal of the kinds of errors that image may have been subjected to. In effect, error management will maintain the glitch just as readily as it maintains the intended image. There is no distinguishing between the two at the status of computer code. Participating in these glitches then gives us a certain control over the market networks that images navigate. Immaterial, perfect simulacra become – in what some may see as a modernist reversal – unique material things, scarred by their passage and better for it (Moradi):

“In a sense we are cherishing the little idiosyncrasies that are absent from the soulless machines churned from the production lines.” [6]

GLTI.CH Karaoke begins from the aesthetic philosophy of glitch and runs with it into the realm of the social.  The “glitches” of GLTI.CH Karaoke that we are exploring are not just in the unexpected outcomes of the hardware/software/technology that we are using, but the idiosyncrasies that come in the grand experiment of being a human being living, working, and playing with other human beings.

GLTI.CH Karaoke is not a solitary affair.  Even at its simplest, even at its most “imperfect,” each event is the manifestation of highly-sophisticated levels of collaboration and coordination between, yes, the coordinators and attendees of each event, but also of the software development teams of YouTube/Livestream/Skype/Facebook/Google, etc. the individuals who have and continue to upload karaoke videos on YouTube, those who maintain the servers and telecommunications of the internets, electricity companies, so on and so forth.

GLTI.CH Karaoke asks what if we apply the philosophy of glitch aesthetics to human relationships–in this case, specifically in the development of a heterotopic community built on telepresent karaoke? As a project which seeks to set up unecessarily-elaborate portals of amateur singing, GLTI.CH Karaoke posits that there is discernible value and–dare we say it?–joy in 1) the collective stumbling, tripping, and frustrations met in the face of technological limits, language barriers, and time zone differences (to name but a few) 2) oblique experimentation and 3) embracing and folding in “errors” in future iterations rather than seeking to “overcome” them or eradicate them.

Using the universal grammar of Karaoke videos, ripped from YouTube, we posit the glitch as a site of artistic autonomy. Using different kinds of technologies and networks, many of them built for completely different tasks, GLTI.CH Karaoke not only inhabits the errors, the time delays and compression artifacts, but the ultimate variable of human interaction. Here, we believe, a neutral collaborative space can be mapped out, free to transcend markets, locations, timezones – free to roam between abandoned city basements, student bed sits and internet café laptops. GLTI.CH Karaoke events revel in the slippery nature of the web. Our manifesto asks to be written and rewritten as it gathers cracks, bruises and mistranslation errors.


Caught between a glide and a slip, the glitch exposes the course of accidents, of temporary lyrical disjoints and the technical out-of-syncs. From the Japanese for ‘empty’ and the English ‘orchestra’ Kara-oke is a global portmanteau, errored in the translation between screens and earworms. GLTI.CH Karaoke establishes its own time-codes as webcam data jolts and audio streams jostle from server to internet server. GLTI.CH Karaoke is a duet happening across multiple time zones, a global hit-parade pushed through the web by the force of awful lip-syncs. With a fondness for compressed pixels and midi programmed synthetics, GLTI.CH Karaoke is a moving, not a movement. A rapid infection spreading like an earworm across nations and networks, GLTI.CH Karaoke asks humans to err: to seek out the Gremlin and sing with it.

[1] See http://www.meanwhilespace.com for more details

[2] Kirschenbaum, M. G. Mechanisms : New media and the forensic imagination. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008), 12.

[3] Iman Moradi, Glitch : designing imperfection, 1st ed. (New York: Mark Batty Publisher, 2009), 6-7.

[4] Hito Steyerl, “Hito Steyerl, A Thing Like You and Me / e-flux”, April 2010, http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/134.

[5] W Hillis, The pattern on the stone : the simple ideas that make computers work, 1st ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 18.

[6] Moradi, Glitch, 10.