Shared Distance (2012)
developed during residencies at ISIS arts and Pervasive Media Stuio (2011)

Shared Distance is a series of data portraits combining anonymised data with objects to form evocative installations of intimacy and distance that tread an uneasy line between abstraction and indexicality.

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? 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?

This work was a result of ongoing research with Chris Speed at Edinburgh College of Art. The following book chapter discusses the research in more depth, focusing on one case study of a family group who use Comob Net to keep in touch while on the move and at long distances. It reveals how strongly users imagine the activity of others at a distance, especially when they are well known to the other partcipants, and location data is overlaid onto satellite imagery.




Southern, J. & Speed, C. (2015) 'Sharing occasions at a distance: the different
dimensions of comobility' in Hunter, V. (ed) Moving Sites:Investigating site-specific dance performance. Oxford: Routledge.

Quotes from interviews:

"...when I know where they are with Comob, I have this mental image. I can see a body. I have an image of them. Not something that is tangible and you can sort of put your hand out and touch. It’s something in the mind."

"He took his phone with him… he’s been doing a bit of training and cycling and that, and I watched him going round his cycling trip, and that was most interesting, that really was. I don’t know, it was just that it really did make me feel part of his cycle trip. He knew I was watching as well, because you know he gave me details, and told me when he was going and I watched him, and I knew when he’d got back home you know. I felt I was actually there."

" know he’s stuck on the side of the road and I can hear him huffing and puffing. ‘oooh this blinking rain!’ [laughs] head under the bonnet of a car somewhere. I can imagine him, you know, I think he’s brilliant with his customers."