This artist turns her tears into tiny ice bullets and shoots them from a gun

This artist turns her tears into tiny ice bullets and shoots them from a gun
A screenshot from a video by Yen-An Chen shows designer and artist Yi Fei-Chen’s tear gun. Yen-An Chen/Vimeo
A screenshot from a video by Yen-An Chen shows designer and artist Yi Fei-Chen’s tear gun. Yen-An Chen/Vimeo

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell people when they’re crossing the line. But here’s an idea: Just freeze your own tears into ice bullets and shoot them at the person bothering you.

It’s an eccentric way to get out emotions, but designer and artist Yi Fei Chen really wanted people to feel her tears. Originally from Taiwan, Chen found herself increasingly frustrated with a teacher and department head at the Netherlands’ Design Academy Eindhoven. He would “try to provoke students as a strategy to get them to speak their mind” and defend their design projects, she said. But this kind of direct, aggressive conversation style is considered deeply impolite in Taiwan, she said — a country where the culture emphasizes respect for authority.

“I love my culture. I grew up in Taiwan for more than 20 years. I had always been the good student — very polite,” Chen said. “But I realized that my politeness based on my Taiwanese cultural background had become a weakness in the Netherlands.”

A screenshot from a video by Yen-An Chen shows designer and artist Yi Fei Chen’s tear gun.
A screenshot from a video by Yen-An Chen shows designer and artist Yi Fei Chen’s tear gun. Yen-An Chen/Vimeo
Tears seep into the gun through a network of tubes and then are frozen into bullets. Yen-An Chen/Vimeo/Giphy
The gun is able to shoot the tears as ice bullets. Yen-An Chen/Giphy/Vimeo

The gun, Chen says, is a symbol of her emotions and the struggle to adapt to a very different culture.

“The hierarchy — I was really influenced by that — so, at the moment, I would get too stressed and just cry,” she said. “I think weapons are an iconic symbol of power. So I used a gun to visualize the power I feel in my tears.”

But it’s a pretty badass invention, all things considered. The gun has a silicone cup molded to fit neatly on the shooter’s face, catching tears as they fall and transferring them to a bottle that turns them into ice bullets. The bullets are then loaded into the gun and fired out of a long, metal tube, allowing for true emotional release.

“On graduation day, I shot the [teacher] as a performance. He was quite afraid because he didn’t know how strong it would be,” she said, laughing. “Dutch people are very open like this. Everyone thought it was fine.”

Yi Fei Chen shoots her frozen tears from a gun she constructed as a design project. Yen-An Chen/Vimeo

It sounds like a fun way to relieve stress, so long as everyone’s cool with it.