Fun at FOLDA: Exploring the Festival of Live Digital Art 2024, Part One

2024 FOLDA logo. Text includes: "FOLDA Festival of Live Digital Art".

Where can you catch a groovy concert, talk to a multimedia AI interface, and take in a 360-degree film in a dome, all in one weekend? FOLDA, of course! 

The Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA), produced by SpiderWebShowPerformance, promotes live digital art with the hopes of empowering communities, creating connections, and inspiring critique. The 2024 festival took place from June 13-15, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to catch a few performances. In this section, we explore KaKaow in Concert, LUCY AI by Lucy Simic and David Usher, and SESQUI’s HORIZON 360º—performances I attended over two days of the festival. KaKaow kicked things off with a groovy show at The Broom Factory, while the LUCY AI exhibition was available before and after performances at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, where HORIZON 360º also took place, being screened inside an inflatable dome. Rather than offering standard fare, FOLDA is all about innovation, creativity, and provoking reflection. 

KaKaow in Concert

Someone plays the guitar and rainbow beams expel from the person.

FOLDA started off strong with a fantastic kick-off by KaKaow (Ricky Brant). Self-described as creating “an Electro Psychedelifunk experience,” KaKaow is a powerful performer who brings it all to the stage. He mixes his own beats live (including groovy hits like Eddy Grant’s ever-popular “Electric Avenue”), adjusting and looping in new sounds when he’s not shredding on the electric guitar. KaKaow has an amazing energy and plays fiercely, even breaking a guitar string, which he promptly re-strung onstage without missing a beat. However, some of the layered sounds were a bit muddled together, so that it was difficult to distinguish between the live guitar and the recordings (mixed live)—this was unfortunate because each were very impressive feats on their own, which I couldn’t appreciate properly. 

Although not overtly funk, it’s clear to see funk’s influences on his music, which is akin to a more brash and bold Ratatat. There is also a funky, multicolour light show projected behind the stage, adding some depth and layers of movement to the performance. This was a really fun live performance and made a great start to the festival. 


A woman onstage wears headphones, a dress, and a hat.
Image of LUCI AI. Photo sourced from FOLDA’s website.

LUCY AI is a collaboration between Lucy Simic of bluemouth inc. (Toronto) and David Usher of Reimagine AI (Montreal). After being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at 49 years old in 2018, Lucy and her friend of several decades, David, created what they call an “immersive multimedia experience” where participants can speak to Lucy AI (an audio-visual AI-generated projection of Simic) and view her memories. Described as a “visual archive” by Simic and Usher, the exhibition is available for viewing (and participating in by asking the AI questions). Audiences could come and go—I went twice on different days of the festival to see different portions of the continually shifting and interactive exhibit. 

The room is set up with projectors across all four walls, with a plinth supporting an iPad in the middle and some seating. The AI would respond to questions via audio and projected video asked by audience members through the iPad—a child’s question, “do you have a pet?” resulted in videos of a cat being projected and the AI explaining that she has never had a pet but always had an affinity for cats. Occasionally, the AI would not respond to questions, but instead play a predetermined segment. For example, when prompted by the question, “who inspires you the most?”, the AI responded that she was inspired by her husband, before moving into a segment about her early days in Brooklyn before and after her diagnosis. Anyone could approach and ask a question, but generally people stood around the room or sat on benches or on the floor, and pensively watched the AI alternately responding to questions, or otherwise moving through recorded segments.

According to Simic and Usher, the exhibition is “the story of Lucy’s life told through a collage of film, music, and movement.” This interactive collage results in a very meditative reflection on a life, and is deeply personal as well as eerily intimate. The AI both is and is not Lucy herself—it is not the human person, of course, but it can show visuals of her life and respond to questions almost as if it were Lucy. While perhaps nice to have an air of mystery about it, I’m curious how the project was put together and the mechanics behind it. A very imaginative and poetic exhibition, and one that prompts reflection on our lives, our creativity, and the possibilities of technology. 


Image of people skating on ice in front of mountains.
Image of HORIZON 360° . Photo sourced from FOLDA’s website.

Developed for the Canada 150 celebrations of 2017, HORIZON 360° is described as a “marquee hemispherical film” by creator, SESQUI. The film is viewed within a portable, inflatable dome, which fits about 18 seats for an intimate and immersive viewing experience. With footage from all provinces and territories, the film spotlights creative work, both traditional and contemporary, and landscapes, both urban and natural. The film unsurprisingly includes plenty of beautifully scenic nature shots, interactions with urban environments, and lots of athleticism and artistic work (and their intersections). Its vision of Canada is one that is culturally rich, agile, strong, and creative. 

The soundtrack is beautiful and inspirational, ranging in styles and including a variety of traditional cultural music, as well as unconventional contemporary work, and examples that blend those distinctions, again with artists from coast to coast to coast. Amongst the famous features are The Halluci Nation (credited as A Tribe Called Red) with Northern Voice, Tokyo Police Club, Grimes (a choice that has perhaps aged poorly), and Gordon Lightfoot. 

Well-known landmarks and places, as well as lesser-known examples of Canadian environments and landscapes (sometimes in urban centres, sometimes in remote places) appear. From the aurora borealis in Yellowknife, to the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, to Peggy’s Cove, to Toronto’s Fort York, to Drumheller, to Fogo Island, to Old Quebec City—the film is really gorgeous and fascinating to see, with an inspirational and idealistic view of Canada.

It is also interesting to view the film in 2024, since it was made in celebration of Canada 150. It looks towards the future of Canada, and technically we are now already in its (near) future. It is a celebration of a vision of Canada, without a critique of what Canada means and has meant to many populations, although this is perhaps not very surprising. However, it remains a beautiful film and it is lovely to see so many places, scenes, art, and culture across the nation. 

FOLDA ran from June 13-15, 2024. More information can be found here.


  • Alyce Soulodre

    Alyce Soulodre (she/her) is a queer, self-taught artist and occasional academic writer living in Katarokwi/Kingston. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Queen’s University, where she explored monstrosity from Victorian novels to 1980s horror films, and taught a course on Victorian ghost fiction. She has been published in Attack of the New B Movies: Essays on Syfy Original Films (2023), and London’s East End: A Short Encyclopedia (2023). In her art practice, she focuses on the weird and wonderful of the natural world and popular culture, and her work reflects her fascination with creatures and plants of all kinds. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Kingston Arts Council and Union Gallery. She enjoys cheesy horror flicks, quaint detective novels, and tries to keep Halloween in her heart all throughout the year. Photo by Talib Ali.

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