By combining small dielectric elastomer (DE) elements in an array configuration, their simultaneous actuation and sensing capabilities can be exploited to develop flexible and energy efficient cooperative systems. In this paper we present development, modelling, and experimental validation of a flexible DE array system. After discussing the system operating principle, a physics-based lumped parameter model is developed to describe the electro-mechanical interactions among the several DE elements. An experimental investigation is also conducted on a first 1-by-3 DE array prototype, with the aim of studying the influence of the geometric parameters on the spatially coupled system response. The experimental data is then used to validate the developed model.