/ 20 September 2021

Meghna Singh and Simon Wood’s five creative inspirations behind ‘Container’

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Director David Lynch and Emily Stofle at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. (Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images)

David Lynch

A guiding question for us while making Container was always, ‘What would David Lynch do?’ Lynch’s incredible body of films seem to exist in a liminal space between dream and reality, relentlessly exploring the unconscious, forcing confrontation with the deceased. Container contemporises a historical truth by creating a nonlinear narrative journey across time and space, entering a liminal reality.

YouTube virtual reality ‘Girlfriend Experience’

A new generation of inexpensive VR 3D cameras gave birth to a peculiar genre of films, the YouTube Girlfriend Experience, which, via a VR headset, takes you on fictional dates with beautiful Asian women. Physically breaking the fourth wall, your date hands you a coke at the cinema, shares her popcorn and might even kiss you on the cheek. Container is designed to create an uncomfortable proximity between the viewer and the subject; a viscerality like no other experience.

Avery Gordon’s book, Ghostly Matters (1997)

Avery Gordon’s book, Ghostly Matters (1997)

We were inspired by Avery Gordon’s work on hauntings and ghosts, in which she proposes haunting as a phenomenon to understand historical repression in society. Reflecting on trans-Atlantic slavery in her book, Ghostly Matters, she suggests that engaging with a ghost “is about putting life back in where only a vague memory or a bare trace was visible to those who bothered to look”. 

Mumbai-based art Studio CAMP’s four-channel video, Destuffing Matrix (2012) 

“Boxes resist images, but also offer an invitation to the curious” — CAMP. We were inspired by the video Destuffing Matrix, in which we see workers taking out products from containers that arrive in Kochi’s new port, thereby keeping an account of what’s arriving and what’s leaving the port. Seeing the ship as an “arrow of trade” moving around the world allowed us to contemplate the hidden processes of globalisation and their connection to the movement of capital.

Shunt Collective’s immersive theatre piece, The boy who climbed out of his face (2014)

At a walk-through performance inside a maze of shipping containers on the Greenwich jetty in London, we were inspired by this unnerving immersive experience in which the audience encounters performers in surreal, awkward scenarios. The following statement by Shunt resonated with us creatively: “Each room you step into is a fabulously detailed new world, but one in which everything seems to have gone drastically wrong”.