Crying is a naturally-occurring phenomenon among humans. No matter how people say that they are emotionless creatures, our eyes do it involuntarily in other circumstances. But why this struggling designer invented a crying tear gun?
The Journal of Research in Personality revealed in a study in 2011 that despite the common notion that the male species do not cry, men shed tears with an average of 1.3 times per month. Women, on the other hand, cry an average of 5.3 times a month.
We cry due to three main things: one, to lubricate and nourish the eyes; two, to protect the eyes from irritants like wind, smoke, or onions; and three, to express emotions. In a day, we produce about 10 ounces of tears; and in a year, about 30 gallons in all.
Tears usually end up being absorbed in clothing or just scattered everywhere, almost invisible to our eyes. It is practically useless when it leaves the eyes. Well, not anymore.
A Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Yi-Fei Chen has weaponized the tears. By ‘weaponized’, I mean using tears as a load in brass gun.
It works by first catching the tears through a mask with a silicon cup. The tears caught are frozen in a bottle, and then loaded into the gun which allows it to be fired.
A ridiculous invention if you ask me, but this Tear Gun is a visual metaphor of Chen to show her personal struggle with speaking her mind. Her being a foreign student at the Netherlands has enabled this gun to be developed.
Chen is a Taiwan native. There, she has so much respect for the authorities, especially teachers, to the point that she was not allowed to disagree with them at all.
When Chen transferred to Netherlands to study for her masters degree, this became a problem. The Design Academy Eindhoven usually encourages the students to question her teachers, but this was a privilege that Chen had struggled with.
“The difficulties living as a foreigner in another country lead to high pressures in the study environment,” she said. “Those pressures had been building for 18 months before finally reaching a crisis point during one of my midterm presentations.”
At that midterm presentation, she was asked by a tutor to do work within a short period of time. Chen thought it was impossible, but did the work anyway without telling her concern to the tutor.
In a separate presentation, she was held at a stage with the dean commenting that she was underprepared. Chen was unable to handle the situation.
“I was stage stuck and did not know how to react, but I did not say my thoughts aloud,” she explains. “Furthermore, the reason he was angry was that I might have misunderstood him.”
Somebody from her class stood up for her and expressed her anger towards the tutor’s scolding. This is where Chen felt her “politeness became her weakness” and was absorbed by her emotions.
“I was too emotional to control myself, I could not hold my tears so I cried,” she recalls. “I turned my back to the others, because I did not want people to see me crying.”
This is where Chen got the idea of making the Tear Gun as a conceptual graduation project, to represent the personal struggle with speaking her mind.
It was featured at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate exhibition at Dutch Design Week.
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