Early on in the theater work Continuous City by the multimedia performance group the Builders Association, a techworker named J.V. (played by actor Rizwan Mirza) tries to sing “Happy Birthday” over an Internet video-chat service called Xubu to one friend, while another friend, also in the virtual chat room, sings along. J.V. is in the San Francisco area, while one friend is in London and the other is in Virginia. Frustrated by their inability to sing in sync, J.V. (pictured below at the computer and in the image labeled “Berkeley”) says:
“That lag is killing me.”The brief, throwaway line serves as a kind of map, or agenda, for the show, which traces the globe-spanning travels of J.V.’s business partner, Mike, who remains in constant communication with work and home via Internet video, but who slowly loses his emotional connection to both — and at times his sanity as well.
Continuous City has its final San Francisco performance this evening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (where I saw it last night), before it moves on to the BAM festival in Brooklyn later this month. More on the work at thebuildersassociation.org. Heightening the meta-reality of Continuous City, the group has set up an ersatz version of the Xubu software at xubu.cc.