This DIY “Multipoint Pinhole Camera” Creates Images Resembling 19th-Century Pointillist Paintings

All images ©Michael Farrell and Cliff Haynes

Were he alive today, 19th-century pointillism pioneer Georges Seurat might resent the comparison, but here’s a weird “multipoint pinhole camera” made from thousands of drinking straws that creates images that really do resemble the pointillist paintings of yesteryear.

The “Straw Camera” is the brainchild of Michael Farrell and Cliff Haynes who began experimenting with the notion of using drinking straws (32,000 to be exact) back in 2007 to create a camera that fragments an image into thousands of small dots as light passes through the straws and is recorded on photosensitive paper attached to the back of the device.

Their project is chronicled in a new book, appropriately titled “Straw Camera,” that was released earlier this month. The 62-page softcover edition discusses the evolution of the project and includes some fascinating portrait and still-life images.

The two artists used the 20x24-inch camera to produce color and black-and-white images. “In a world beset by selfies with their immediate gratification,” 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 how transitory perception is.”

You can read more about this unusual project on the Straw Camera website, and purchase the book here. And be sure to take a look at our recent story about an innovative photography instructor who teaches his class inside a giant camera obscura.