Little Doomsday reviewed for Otago Daily Times


Laura Borrowdale reviews Little Doomsdays by Nic Low & Phil Dadson: 

'Reading Little Doomsdays is a meditative act. The looping series of stories, thoughts and images on the act of preserving, of storing, of saving, created by artist Phil Dadson and writer Nic Low demands quiet, concentration and time.

This collaboration is the fifth of the Massey University Press’ kōrero series masterminded by Lloyd Jones, which explores the connection between art and writing. Throughout this gentle allegory, Low describes the history of arcs, of banks or time capsules; the many ways humanity has preserved and kept the concerns of the past. Most poignant of all are Low’s discussions of what might fill the arc we pass on. He lists his treasures, telling his son he will 'bequeath you my phone, and my laptop, my hard drives, my eReader, my tablet, my smart watch', noting that although these treasures are beyond the imagination of his grandparents, for those who come in the future, they will be 'obsolete'. He says: 'There are no heirlooms in the age of tech'.

While Low and Dadson did not write or illustrate in direct response to each other’s work, the two are clearly meditating on the same idea. A page of opaque paper containing Low’s thoughts on how to preserve the ocean and the wind lies sandwiched in the centre of a bright blue illustration of Dadson’s. It might be water and reef rocks, it might be something entirely alien, and both the writing and the images have this same unsettling effect, like saying a familiar word over and over until it loses its meaning, or looking at something with such abstraction, you can no longer see the original.

This repetition is something both Dadson and Low play on throughout. The pressing concerns of time and environmental concern run through the art and writing, as well as our obsession with the internet. In a damning statement about the present era, Low notes: 'It’s said that the act of recording is now more important than what is being recorded'.

As a record, Little Doomsdays holds both the past and the present, as well as a concern for the future. It is a beautiful object, one to return to, each time finding something new.'