Design

An artist made a gun that shoots tears and the internet can't get enough of it

The beautiful brass gun lets the wearer fire their tears back at whoever caused them.

Yi-Fei Chen

Taiwanese artist Yi-Fei Chen has brought a whole new meaning to the concept of turning your pain into art. In 2016, the designer created a brass gun that used her tears as bullets. The faux weapon was chic and sleek and came with an origin story of vulnerability. In 2021, it’s suddenly getting major love again from thousands of people on Twitter.

Yi-Fei Chen
The gun collects teardrops in a silicon pocket placed on the cheek. They're then funneled into a bottle on the gun, which carries dry ice that freezes the teardrops into a bullet, Chen told Design Indaba in 2018. Yi-Fei Chen
A sketch of Chen's brass gun.Yi-Fei Chen

Per design magazine Dezeen, Chen was going through an exceptionally tough time in 2016 as a student at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where she had fallen into a bitter altercation with her tutor. She felt stress not only as a student but as a foreigner in a land with different customs and morals.

Chen tried to hold her tears back during class until one of her peers stood up for her and criticized the teacher’s demand for more work from an already exhausted and demoralized Chen. This display of kindness and support made Chen cry.

Design Indaba

The gun is now back on the public's radar on Twitter where users have shared that signature photo of Chen holding the brass gun with a tube snaking over her face as a solitary teardrop slides down her cheek.

It looks like a weapon you'd find in Cowboy Bebop or Ergo Proxy.

Yi-Fei Chen

“I would say that incident [with the tutor] made me meet the extreme. The social restrictions I faced growing up became a burden of pressure and these tears represent the explosion of frustration and anger.”

Yi-Fei Chen to 'Design Indaba'

Yen An Chen / Instagram

“I tried to suppress myself for so long — not talking back, not being rude, not crying, not breaking down,” Chen added, “but the emotions ultimately won." Thankfully, Chen only used her tear gun as an art piece.

Yi-Fei Chen