The Straw Camera is an innovative analogue camera created by collaborators Mick Rarrell and Cliff Haynes made from 32,000 drinking straws.
"We were motivated by our mutual interest in creating images in the most direct manner possible," says Haynes. "Mick in particular had an active interest in pinhole image making. On a summer school course we converted a Polaroid camera to a pinhole and had some fun with that. But there is very little in common between the pinhole camera and a straw camera. The pinhole gives an entire image from a single point perspective. The Straw Camera, which is a box stacked with approximately 23,000 black drinking straws, produces a multipoint perspective from an array. The light viewed/collected by each individual tube is recorded onto the photo sensitive material placed at the opposite end. By going straight on to paper, it is a direct analogue process.
We talked things over and lashed up a small box prototype to test. That worked and we decided that it might prove interesting to make a bigger camera, so we built a 20 X 24 inch camera. After initial tests with black and white we used colour paper as a negative. Then we contact printed to another sheet of colour paper (both without maker’s logos on the back), finishing up with a positive image.
The straws have a “raw” ƒ stop, where a 10” (254mm) long, 2mm diameter straw, gives an aperture of about ƒ127, and this was used as a rough starting point for exposure. There isn’t depth of field - the clarity of image produced by the straws recedes into the picture plane. The Straw Camera gives a straight indexical rendering of whatever is put before it; a direct 1:1 view of the subject. Each straw has it’s own density and hue. The multipoint perspective lends itself to a passing nod to the Euston Road School of painting, with its passion for accurate depiction, and at the same time suggests a “pointillist” impression."
Read more about the camera here.