Interview: Persis Jade Maravala on the incredible #RioFoneHack extending

Interview: Persis Jade Maravala on the incredible #RioFoneHack extending

We caught up with Persis Jade Maravala from offbeat arts collective ZU-UK to talk about the extension of #RioFoneHack a one-of-a-kind secret installation in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

If you haven’t embraced your inner Brazilian yet, get on down to the park until 29 November 2015!

riofonehackTell us about RioFoneHack, what’s it all about?

We hacked 3 phone booths from Rio to create an  unique and personal experience for the  curious passer by. Each phone offers a personalised experience for the player. The 1st is a wacky Brazilian DJ offering a 5 minute Brazilianification workshop, the 2nd is a 5 minute political meditation on the River and the contested nature of the land in the area and the 3rd is a scientific experiment on distance and proximity. 

What was your journey to creating this unique experience?

We first had the idea to hack the phones back in 2012  and it was in response to automated systems – talking to machines. I was interested in the rage it seemed to provoke in users. I was interested to see if it was possible to have meaningful and even intimate interactions with an automated telephone system.  It was also a great journey collaborating with a team of inspiring makers, including the geniuses Nacho and Xurde Durán, as well as co-writers Clare Qualmann, Holly Gramazio and Andy Field.

gas stationWhat makes your work different?

We make work in the intersection of extreme ‘humanness’ and digital technology. We have come from theatre into digital installations and I think this gives us a particular perspective on the tradition of the ‘live’ combined with the possibilities of technology that is changing so rapidly. Game structures are a big part of our current work, with the opening of our new space GAS station (Games & Arts Stratford).

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a great addition to East London life – have you enjoyed working there?

Not when its raining! 

As the Olympics arrives next year in Rio after the success of the London games, how important is it to build communication between Brazil and London (and the rest of Europe)?

Brazil exists as an idea in everyones mind – I would like for people to know more about the real Brazil as opposed to the clichés. 

What comes after RioFoneHack for you?

We are working on a Live Escape Game from a modified container we are building. 

Who or what inspires you? 

The optimism of ska music, Jeremy Corbyn, East London bagels and my daughter.

Longplayer installation at Trinity Buoy Wharf - Photo by James Whitaker

Longplayer installation at Trinity Buoy Wharf – Photo by James Whitaker

What are your favourite places to go in London? (To eat, to relax, to party etc.)

Trinity Buoy Wharf – which has Fat Boys Diner, the Longplayer installation and the Parkour Academy.

What are your favourite free or cheap things to do in London?

Tate Modern. Boat ride on the Thames. Chatsworth Market.

Persis Jade Maravala is joint director of ZU-UK and GAS station, and the lead writer for RioFoneHack.