As a content writer I felt a bit lost in the jungle of artists during Dutch Design Week 2016. I was suffocated with the amount of designs on the last day there. Eindhoven offered me one piece that caught my breath and broke my heart from a personal point of view.
Tear Gun by Yi Fei Chen left me in fascination; I was caught staring at it for half an hour – enough for my whole life to flash before my eyes. The tear shooting firearm would be a “toy” that ever Asian kid growing up in Western culture would love to have. Why?
Fei is a Taiwanese artist who came to Holland for her Master’s Degree at Design Academy Eindhoven. During her studies, she struggled with discussing and disapproving with her professors. Disagreement means rudeness in her country, and rudeness needs to be punished. This cultural differences are both conflicting and traumatizing for most Asian students, including myself.
This cultural pain is what inspired Fei in creating the Tear Gun as her graduation work. The user first puts on a mask with a silicon cup that catches their tears. The tears are frozen in a bottle, and then loaded into the gun – allowing the frozen tears to be fired.
“Those emotions and tears are strong and unstoppable; therefore, I was thinking why not I just accept it? And then I go even further, what if I take an advantage of them?” says Fei.
Standing in front of the Tear Gun evoked a recollection of painful memories. Moments where I was not able to stand up for myself. When I was silent in disagreement, so as to not create conflict. I found no courage in my dissenting mind for a voice – no matter if it was my teacher, ex-boss, or a taxi driver.
I’ve lived in Europe for 21 years, and even now, still swallow my tears while others believe I agree with them. Is firing off the best solution? Can’t we figure out a more peaceful method of disagreement without swallowing tears and rising to arms?
Duong Nguyen Jiraskova