From: 40 Frames (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Aug 20 2008 - 09:49:30 PDT

On Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 6:49 AM, Rick Prelinger <email suppressed> wrote:

> Access to tools.
> Every story is different, but many media arts centers like FAF came into
> existence because makers needed access to expensive tools.
> Most of them date back to the 1970s, a few earlier or later. That's when
> Steenbecks cost $40,000. Now people give them away on Craigslist.

I understand that FAF formed (in 1976) around the purchase of a Steenbeck,
and a rental space to house the machine. As Rick
says, the expense motivated a group to band together to purchase the

A Steenbeck or a KEM may cost a bundle, but provide 20, 30, or more years of
service. Now-a-days you can pay the same amount
per year to own a computer (Apple, PC) with a 2-4 year service life. BTW,
both Steenbeck and KEM are still in business, but mainly to serve
archivists, the editors having shifted away from flatbeds long ago. Maybe
the workers at Steenbeck are paid the same as Apple, or at the factories
that Apple contracts with, but regardless, the junk keeps piling up.

I got my first computer (working for a surplus recycling company) in 1995,
and have since owned eight computers, most recently buying them second-hand
since I dislike the practice of spending lots of money on something only to
throw/give it away in a few years.

It's sad to think that FAF will no longer be part of the landscape, and
maybe they shouldn't have bought that building, but maybe they didn't see a
choice with rent going up and building no equity. I would be curious to know
the size of FAF's membership, or whether their workshops filled to capacity,
or how often a Bolex rented, or a Steenbeck for that matter.


Alain LeTourneau
Pamela Minty
425 SE 3rd #400
Portland, OR 97214
United States
+1 503 231 6548
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.