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Is This The Artful Solution To Long Distance Relationships?

When email, Skype, and texting all get old, these coupled devices can send messages to your long-distance partners in an endearing, nuanced manner.

by Zach Sokol
Aug 20 2014, 2:30pm

Images © Jonathan Levinson via

While committing to a long distance relationship can be mature and even tie couples closer together, the separation can often lead to teeth-grinding frustration and slow and painful detachment. When email, WhatsApp, and Skype start to feel emotionally void, it can be hard to boldly tell our isolated partners that we're thinking about them. One recent art project could be a long distance panacea, though, as it attempts to bring couples closer together through technology without trying to meekly mimic the sensations of IRL interactions.

DesignBoom pointed our Cupid's arrows towards Saying Things That Can't Be Said, the final project by Daniel Sher and Ben Hagin at the Holon Institute of Technology. The work includes a series of tech-enabled objects that have coupled transmitters and receivers, built to send nuanced messages between partners. The first in the series is called "I'm With You," two lantern-like sculptures that send heart beats across space. As one lover holds part A of the artwork, part B pulses in correspondence—a nod towards the adage,"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Another pair in the series includes a pinwheel and bubble machine. As one person puffs on the paper toy, bubbles emit from the other end. The last pair in the series works similarly, including a synthetic flower encased in glass. As one partner "blows a kiss" into the tube, an internal microphone senses the air and makes the wings of a butterfly sculpture flap on the receiving side of the "smooch." 

Sher explained to DesignBoom that "It was important to me not to try to reenact the feelings of touch, pressure and warmth we feel when we hug of caress our loved one. Trying to imitate that will always feel fake." While Saying Things That Can't Be Said won't necessarily cure the loneliness that comes with a long-distance relationship, the object series shares a kindred, tech-enhanced spirit with classic romantic gestures like sending letters or making mixtapes. When cute text messages get old, maybe sending bubbles across seas will do the trick. 

I’m With You

h/t DesignBoom


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long distance
ben hagin
daniel sher
device pairs
holon institute of technology daniel sher
messaging systems long distance relationships
saying things that can't be said
staying connected through technology