Tear Gun, fragility-loaded weapon


Emotions are the last bastion of humanity when it comes to machines. But what we feel deeply is usually not being autonomously perceived by machines themselves, so what if we consider a reverse logic, and use machines to better express our feelings? At some point Yi-Fei Chen, a Taiwanese student at Design Academy Eindhoven, should have posed herself a similar question. Initially she had an altercation with one of her tutors, and soon after that another confrontation during her midterm presentation with the dean of the school, who told her that she was underprepared. She was unable to articulate a defence, and after a classmate spoke in her support she felt even worse and burst into tears, turning her back to the audience. But after that she bravely and cleverly decided to acknowledge this weakness, reacting to it through her conceptual graduation project. She built a “Tear Gun”, a device with a silicon cup to be worn for collecting tears, which are then frozen, ready to be fired at will through a minimal brass gun. The form she used to articulate and transform her uneasiness on both an intimate and a public level, has proven to be technically feasible and symbolically powerful, in a way that instantly makes it universal. It’s the perfect combination of two extremes: the tears as a supreme manifestation of fragility and giving up, and the gun, as the fastest tool for aggression. The assembled mechanism can carry in its functionality the tensions which lie behind it: a culture-based, role-based and gender-based tension, which is then channelled in loading the gun and released powerfully when the person decides to. In fact, at her graduation, she had the opportunity to point and fire her tears at the head of the department. And she took it. (copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven / Photographs: Ronald Smits)


Yi-Fei Chen – Tear Gun