Shared Distance
developed during residencies at ISIS arts and Pervasive Media Stuio (2011)

Shared Distance is an artists project exploring how people use new technologies to keep in touch at a distance and on the move.

For over 140 years people have been sending postcards to say ‘wish you were here’, to describe far off places, share thoughts and proclaim feelings. On a mantelpiece or fridge postcards become visual reminders of people, places and relationships. Now that we use text messages, emails, facebook, skype, twitter and mobile phone calls as well as letters, postcards and meetings is there something different about how we keep in touch? Now that it is easy to share where you are as you travel, through location based mobile phone applications, does knowing where someone is minute by minute change how close you feel to them, or enhance how far apart you are?

Shared Distance invites you to use an iPhone app called ‘Comob net’ to keep in touch with someone you know. It might be an aunt on another continent, a friend in another city, a sibling across town or a partner who travels for work. Through the project you will share location data with each other whenever you choose. You might use it to let them know that you’re thinking about them, to show them a new place you’re visiting or to help you to find each other when you meet up. After a month we invite you to collaborate with us to make a portrait of the shared distances of your relationship by combining location data collected through the iPhone app with keepsake objects.



line projected onto teacup


This Shared Distance portrait combines data with an object and shows two friends, represented as linked dots, in an animated projection onto a teacup. One dot hovers around a base location as the other gradually moves further and further away on a journey to another city.

The project is based on the idea that when sharing location data at a distance a new form of social connection is happening, what we call ‘comobility’. The work is both social research and mobile artwork, inviting you to explore different mediations of relationships at a distance. These lines have been felt as tethers, connections, emotional links or thoughts travelling across space as we intermittently pay attention to other people at a distance.

We are looking for 5 groups of people to participate in the project during in 2012/2012. Please contact Jen at email if you would like to take part.