Saturday, July 05, 2008

Daleks and a quick catch up

This story about the BBC pursuing a Doctor Who fan who created knitting patterns for making your own cuddly alien creatures is a bit old now, but I'll mention it as I like them. As cuddly toys go, I find them infinitely preferable to the mis-shapen knitted bear I had as a child.

To summarise, Mazzmatazz, a Doctor Who fan and knitter, created patterns for aliens that have featured in the current series, the squid-faced Oods, and Adipose fat monsters, and posted them on her website for other fans to download. The BBC contacted her for infringement of their copyright and she took the patterns down. There is an excellent post covering it from a legal perspective on Technollama, along with updates to the story.

Other Doctor Who-related knits and patterns are still available elsewhere, if you fancy picking up the knitting needles.... a Tardis, Dalek socks, and Extermaknit Daleks!

I'm interested in this from a design and craft point of view. Fan-dom frequently involves individuals creating their own items (objects, clothes, accessories) as a tribute to their particular subject of interest. Part of this activity which makes it meaningful for the fan is the time and effort spent on making the item. One frequently sees fans wearing home-made badges using other people's photographs, customised jackets painted with images copied from photographs, or other garments embroidered with representations of the object of their passion, whether graphic or textual (for example, autographed signatures transcribed onto fabric and embellished). None of this type of activity seems any different to the knitting patterns, which were not commercial ventures either, but products of 'fan-dom'.

Actually, I find this type of story quite depressing, when harmless non-profit-making individual creativity collides with money-making activities from big organisations.

The catching-up bit...

The long blogging gap was due to a heavy PhD workload and being really busy at work. We've just been audited and reviewed, as part of an internal university-wide review of research, which has been a bit time-consuming and stressful. Someone remarked during a committee meeting a while ago that a particular part of the university was like the evil heart of the Dalek, which I found rather amusing at the time (though no-one else did.) Not sure yet what the recommendations of the review will mean for us as a department and as a college, but I think we have done ok, compared to the 'Dalek's evil heart'.

Also, I'm quite excited about an exhibition of current PhD work planned for the autumn. It will be an interesting challenge for me to make object-based theory look interesting to a non-traditional academic audience, and hopefully avoid being too wordy, flat and corporate-looking, like 'poster' exhibitions can be. I like the idea of making a video at the moment, but I'll see how it develops.... It's a nice thing to think about, and a reminder of why it was a great choice for me to do a PhD at an art college, rather than a more conventional university. It's a bit tiring as I seem to be working all the time, but they are good reasons for being knackered, I think.


Anonymous said...

I've got a pair of Dan Dare socks that came from Marks and Spencers years ago. They have nearly worn out, which is a real shame; I have to rations wearing them to occasions where people I meet will be suitably impressed.
Shame about the BBC being such prats- it's on a par with McDonalds trying to sue Mrs McDonald who was making burgers in a small cafe in Scotland: they were advised not to do it in the end, as it would have gained them so many negative column-inches!
Helen McC

Claire said...

An interesting line from M&S! I bet Roger Sabin would appreciate them.