Document: North Island new Zealand Road Works "Go Men"


Often in my story-telling/art-making, I’ve documented road trips. More often than not, the footage doesn’t get anywhere, but the process helps me move somewhere mentally and emotionally, as I associate so much with landscapes and activity in it. Some years back, I photographed all the roadworks we passed on a trip from my hometown in New Zealand (Palmerston North) to Auckland and some of these images made their way to be paintings. The Go men (and women) always took time to acknowledge us and the trucks. I love trucks.

Resurfacing State Highway One Oil on canvas, Emma Louise Pratt

Resurfacing State Highway One

I’ve begun to focus more on the video work I do to collect information for paintings and realised it’s place not only in process, but as a finished work itself. I’m currently working on a video and painting project based on a village and it’s water sources. A multi-media work on canvas is developing as another way of telling the story within the video story. Confused? I’ll get it finished and uploaded soon and I’ll leave it to do the talking!

What I really want to talk about in this post is documenting. 

I got this post today – being shared around Facebook. It’s a call for video footage about a week of protests in my homeland New Zealand. This call for footage isn’t new. Since videos have been in the hands of more and more people via their phones, we’ve become used to seeing our own, albeit shaky, footage used in news reports. We’ve become reporters of our own histories. BBC is constantly making use of people on the ground tweeting what they’re witnessing, posting images and video. Image and footage work their way effectively around social platforms, moved by us, the people on the ground, to the envy of any news platform.

In recent floods in New Zealand, in which our own family farm was submerged, I went to news sites to get a handle on things, but quickly found the collaborative efforts of facebook pages and twitter hashtags set up by locals on the fly far closer to what was happening to my community. I got disaster relief info, flood updates and shared images and footage from people’s own windows, front gates, or while out walking the dog.

When I was a kid, we all typed with two fingers and through use became more adept at typing. Now we are becoming more adept at filming and visual aspects of storytelling through the possibilities given us of participating socially. people are even becoming adept at giving soundbites and short statements. We adapt. We learn.

What’s interesting about this latest call for footage and imagery is that it isn’t reactive. To get good footage at a later date, journalist Bryan Bruce would, as he explained, be restricted to the archived footage taken by news crews, and would have to pay for it.

A call for footage after the act would give him some good footage, but this documentarian is asking in advance for people to get out on the streets and carefully, MINDFULLY document the protests from their vantage point. He isn’t looking for that “quick, get the phone out and film that” reactive documenting. He’s given a list of things he’s looking for. Bruce wants good footage.

From the Facebook post:

“Try to get good images of protest signs, groups marching (from the front and the side) and show the diversity of age groups and ethnicities protesting  and catch some speakers in various centres…

If you interview people, which I hope you will, please remember to ask first “Do you mind if I ask why you are protesting today?”

(Don’t forget the odd shot of police of GCSB filming the demos 🙂

Our team of volunteers film makers will then edit the footage together to make what will not only be a historical piece but an ongoing social media protest. We will make teh footage available on social media adb it will eventually be stored in the New Zealand Film Archive under a creative commons licence.”

If you send me a personal message I will give you information about how to send the footage to me.

This is learning with a facilitator/catalyst. Bruce is encouraging people to consider what they cover, to effectively cover all aspects of the events and consciously consider what those aspects might be. This is an environment for reflection on their overall performance as participators and collaborators in recording history and telling a story. The project continues improving their filming skills through being asked to considering a variety of shots, and become interviewers and journalists. All on the fly.
Bryan Bruce’s Post here:


About the author Emma Louise Pratt

Emma Louise Pratt studied at Ilam School of Fine Art, Canterbury University, New Zealand. She has been the runner up in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2005), and a finalist in the Norsewear Award (2007) in New Zealand and finalist in the Focus Abengoa International Painting Prize, Spain in 2014. Emma is known for her landscape based work where she explores specific landscapes that convey significance to her either for their historical or personal importance, serving as they always have, as a personal travel map.

All posts by Emma Louise Pratt →

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