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The impressive, disquieting work of a nimble-fingered balloon artist

"This Is FAST: Balloon Animals" (Screenshot: YouTube)

There is a certain amount of tension inherent in any endeavor involving balloons. The inflatable orbs are, by their very nature, fragile, and when they expire, it is often with a loud, sudden pop. Alfred Hitchcock once did his best to explain the difference between suspense and surprise, but it seems that a balloon artist like Todd Neufeld of the Twisted Balloon Company combines both of these elements in his unusual work. The stakes may not be nearly so high as they are in The Hurt Locker, but watching Neufeld twist various balloons into the shape of a googly-eyed, tongue-wagging puppy dog is not entirely unlike watching Jeremy Renner deactivate bombs. In both cases, the spectator inherently knows that disaster is only a split second away at any moment. Adding to the atmosphere of nervous excitement is the fact that Neufeld works so quickly. In fact, he’s the subject of the latest episode of Wired’s webseries, This Is FAST. The video should get him some work at extremely brief birthday parties or perhaps a meeting of Caffeine Addicts Anonymous.

“I’m Todd Neufeld, and I twist balloons fast,” so says the soul-patched artist, who wears an inflatable “flower” on the lapel of his shiny blue jacket. The rest of the video proves that this is no idle boast. Most of the episode is wordless and shot from that “God’s point of view” overhead angle that Martin Scorsese occasionally uses. For the most part, the only things that are visible on screen are Neufeld’s forearms and the balloons he’s manipulating. The only sounds are the worrying squeaks of rubber as it is twisted and tied into forms that God never intended. As a prelude, Neufeld creates and then summarily destroys a traditional, monochromatic balloon dog. He then creates a much more elaborately detailed version of the animal, all with his signature lightning speed. Why anyone would need a balloon dog in such a short amount of time is another matter. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which anyone would say, “Jesus! Aren’t you done with that balloon animal yet? I need it pronto!” But if that ever happens, Neufeld is ready.


[via Laughing Squid]

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