This camera is made of 32,000 drinking straws
Looking for a craft project to tackle this weekend? It might be an undertaking, but it turns out if you put 32,000 drinking straws together in a wooden box, voila – you’ve got a camera. At least, that was the starting point for a collaboration by artists Michael Farrell and Cliff Haynes. Over the course of several years they worked on iterations of the Straw Camera, a project that combined their love of sculpture, photography and innovation.
The first versions of Straw Camera used 10-inch black drinking straws, each one with roughly an F127 aperture. The pair began photographing still life, but early results were mixed. Haynes describes his frustrations with images from the first version of the camera:
‘I was slightly disillusioned by the output from the initial camera, the straws were never going to be even, the camera had it’s own signature, changing slightly each time a few more were added as they settled in the box. I thought a similar, more even field could be obtained using corrugated black plastic protective floor sheeting instead of straws.’
Later versions of the Straw Camera used a more predictable, easier-to-work-with corrugated plastic layer. Its creators moved past still life and focused on creating portraits with the camera, embracing the pointillist qualities of its output as a contrast to the ubiquitous, high-resolution selfie. Says Haynes:
‘…a Straw Camera image of an individual, with its engineering projection and disappearance of the subject into the near fog of visual capture, gives the viewer a glimpse of just how transitory perception is.’
You can see some samples of Haynes and Farrell’s work above. If you’re in London you can also check out their work in person at Slade Research Centre, University College London from February 16-19 from 12-5pm. A book of Straw Camera images is available on Blurb.