Just last month Teengirl Fantasy teased their upcoming 4 track EP, Thermal, with a beguiling music video that tracked collaborator Lafawndah through a lush, steamy jungle. In unleashing the full weight of their EP they've taken immersion to the next level, commissioning the digital agency co-founded by Slava and artist Analisa Teachworth, 4REAL, to create a trippy new interactive site at the URL thermal.global. The new site plays host to four different environments, each with a tactile, distinctive atmosphere that complements a track on the all-around excellent EP, out now on Break World Records. Play around with "7:30" below (which reminds, me, for some odd reason, of playing Dinosaur Hunter) and then read our interview with 4REAL, below, where Slava and Teachworth explain the inspirations, concepts, and development process behind thermal.global.
Can you tell me a little bit about 4REAL's background? We are two artists—Analisa Teachworth and musician Slava (Balasanov)—and we were interested in the idea of creating a company that operates in a commercial context but from a more artistic and creative angle. Slava also has a mathematics/CS background so there is a strong technological backbone to everything we do. We don't outsource any of our work and do it all in-house so we are able to generate a much more tailored, unique product.
Prior to this Teengirl Fantasy had an Angelfire page—what inspired them to ask you to make their new site so complex? I think there is a similarity between what we made and the Angelfire page because the latter's aesthetic was pushing the limits of what the internet was capable of in the 1990s. Referencing the wild GIFs from that era in a way is a celebration of cyber creativity. We wanted to take this into the present and push the limits of what is possible now—celebrate the freedom and creativity afforded by today's internet.
How did you engineer the different worlds to marry music and web design? We built the site for users to have a hybrid-like experience where they could do many things and move fluidly throughout the entire site. In many ways, each song becomes its own music video where people actively participate with sound and art works generating a unique dialogue between the two worlds.
A lot of the interfaces feel like surreal takes on familiar programs, what apps or sites or games were you inspired by? We are inspired by general developments in WebGL as well as Sci-Fi, and early computer games and abstract games like Second Life. The heavy user control and elements of freedom and exploration are the most common threads we pull on from gaming culture. The environments aesthetic pulls from a myriad of different cultural references we find interesting—like Dan Flavin's neons in "Cavescape" and Lost Highway in "U Touch Me".
How many different kinds of easter eggs are there to uncover? There are a few hidden and not-so-hidden 4REAL logos sprinkled throughout. There is also a surprise (depending on your hardware configuration) at the end of "7:30."