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October 25, 2006

{     Smileycam and Mouthpiece     } The Smileycam pinhole camera can hardly be called a camera in my opinion: it does not have the body or almost any of the functions of cameras. It is more a film exposing device since the step you need to take is just one and in reality this "camera" is simply a modified 110 film roll. As usual for pinholes and as by description, the Smileycam has no auto-anything, no viewfinder, & no LENS. Very bizarre, but as in all off-the-mainstream analog photography, this is where the fun lays! The Smileycam is handmade by Justin Quinnell – premier pinhole guru and undisputed master of oral pinhole photography. What Justin did, was basically modify a 110 film cartridge by adding a pinhole plate to the film exposure area, hand paint an arrow as a guide for advancing the film, make a shutter out of black masking tape, put a yellow smiley on it and find the most unlikely of places to test his little Frankenstein: his mouth. And he did not stop at a handful of mouth shots: he actually published an entire book titled Mouthpiece, with 60 shots which have as a frame two rows of teeth, all coming from Justin's mouth. The subjects range from classic travel photography (from the San Marco Square in Venice to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona) to family shots and more surreal themes perfectly matching the bizarre "picture composition" of the book. I am impressed by the ability to actually make a "camera" out of film alone, but even more so, I cannot stop asking myself how he manages to operate the shutter inside his mouth: any ideas? The experiment may look a little childish, but this handcraft work is not to be laughed at: the Smileycam is not only fully functioning and gifted with many positive attributes (wide angle, soft focus, complete unpredictability but no distortions since there is no lens), but thanks to its size and weight, can be used where a traditional camera fails to work (like your mouth! or under your skate, or in your hat or, as Quinnell suggests, taped on a frisbee!). They promise the 110 format is still easily developed at most labs and the price for this single use beauty is definitely reasonable: sold for 20 euros by Lomo (or 35 with the above mentioned book), definitely get it if you want to test things out before upgrading to a gorgeous Zero Pinhole and for some easy fun!

     » Justin Quinell
     » Smileycam introduces herself
     » Shop for it (under Special Formats)
     » Mouthpiece

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