Designer builds a gun that transforms tears into bullets

While we all cry sometimes when we’re sad or hurt, it’s more than a symptom of sadness. Crying can be triggered by a range of feelings — from empathy and surprise to anger and grief. And although not all of these emotions are easy to see, tears are usually a common signal.

After an altercation with her tutor, Dutch Design Academy graduate Yi-Fei Chen couldn’t keep herself from crying. Born in Taiwan, Yi-Fei was brought up with a strong sense of authority and taught that disagreeing with teachers was rude. Thus, this public display made her feel ashamed. The incident led her to come up with a quirky conceptual design project.

Design graduate Yi-Fei Chen

Yi-Fei Chen designs a gun for firing her tears

On display during Dutch Design Week, Yi-Fei’s brass Tear Gun fires water collected as she cries, making her design the literal expression of her internal struggle to speak her mind.

“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.”

The Tear Gun works by catching tears under the wearer’s eye with a silicon pocket. They are then funnelled into a steampunk-like brass system where, finally, a small bottle filled with dry ice fixed to the back of the pistol freezes the teardrops into solid bullets. The tears are then ready to be fired into the face of authority.

Tear Gun by Yi-Fei Chen transforms tears into bullets

At her graduation ceremony, Yi-Fei got to use the gun on her head of department — an opportunity she gladly took. Luckily didn’t lead to any harm. And while the tear gun might not be able to physically hurt anyone, it does offer the owner a sense of emotional release when the trigger is pulled; and often that’s more than enough.


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