Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds were displayed on the floors of the Tate to be trudged across and walked on by visitors to the exhibition. Each of the 100 million seeds was handcrafted out of porcelain clay and then painted. Viewers were encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the experience by stepping across the seeds and feeling the sense of destruction as they smashed. As each one was hand sculpted, this must have caused feelings of guilt but also given a sense of power, to viewers.
Ai Weiwei intended this work to explore what it means to be an individual in society, material desires and what these mean for society and the environment. Through making his work interactive, Ai Weiwei forces the viewer to contemplate these ideas.