Teenage patients have created an interactive radio game which transforms hospitals into virtual gaming worlds as part of a groundbreaking arts programme.

The ‘Radio/Silence’ game, developed by teenagers in Cork University Hospital (CUH) with Cork-based artist Eszter Némethi, alters the hospital environment for the listener and explores themes including alternate realities, escape and hidden stories.

First broadcast on CUH radio in 2015, the game has now been adapted so that listeners in other hospitals can dial a special number to help the game characters save the world from an evil doctor intent on spreading silence.

The game will soon be available to play by teenagers in hospitals in Galway, Waterford, and Dublin, who will be able to access it from their beds using mobile phones provided by Helium Arts, the children’s arts and health organisation.

The game will also be available for the public to access at Cork City Hall later this week as part of the Cloudlands arts project. Cloudlands was developed by Helium Arts as an artist residency programme for teenagers who are often in wards with much younger children and with little creative stimulation.

“The essence of the Cloudlands project is to provide teens in hospital with a voice and a place to be away from their illness and medical routines, a place where they can be a teenager,” said Helium artistic director Helene Hugel.

It took place in CUH in 2013 and 2015, when Ms Némethi worked with the teens to develop Radio/Silence.

“My role was to try weave together the stories, propose ideas, and create a daisy chain-like process where everyone could add, transform or, if they liked, ignore my proposal and go in a totally different direction,” said Ms Némethi. “Working physically in a hospital also had a mark on all the stories because reimagining the room, the ward, or the space was often the starting point, giving the young people the freedom to invent.”

Artist Rachel Tynan also worked with teenagers in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital as part of Cloudlands to develop Titans, an interactive installation of wooden figures which, once moved into combinations, reveal sound recordings of the teens’ stories.

Ms Tynan said it was important to the young patients that their stories reached beyond the hospital walls.

The results of the Cloudlands projects will go on display in the Atrium of Cork City Hall this Friday. Cloudlands will visit arts venues and hospitals across the country until June.


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