Christoph Niemann wants to show me something funny.

Open the app and go to the fish-face scene, he tells me over the phone from his studio in Berlin. Niemann, an illustrator who regularly contributes to publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, and WIRED, is guiding me through Chomp ($3.99), an app he’s created with his developer partner Jon Huang.

I click on a tile with a hand-drawn fish, and live video of my face, captured by my phone’s front-facing camera, appears on screen—only it’s upside down, positioned within the outline of a chubby, bug-eyed guppy. I study the screen for a moment, unsure of what I’m seeing. Then I get it. When positioned just right, my mouth becomes the fish’s mouth, and this fish—a hybrid of me and Niemann’s illustration—is mirroring every word I say.

chomp Chomp

Niemann’s right: The effect is funny, for all the same reasons looking at someone’s face upside down or adding googly-eyes to a celebrity on a magazine cover is funny. It’s silly, bizarre, and unexpected. It’s enough to make you giggle out loud.

Niemann illustrated 51 scenes for Chomp, each as charmingly absurd as the guppy. In one scene, your face replaces a piece of toast in a toaster. In another, it becomes a ping pong ball. My favorite shows my visage slowly dripping from a leaky faucet, only to become a messy deluge of facial features when I tap the screen.

Chomp is a fitting sequel to Niemann’s first app, Petting Zoo, in which you interact with a menagerie of animal illustrations by tapping, swiping, and pulling on them. (In one doodle, swiping upward on trotting weiner dog pulls his midsection into an accordion-like fold; in another, your swipes control a blast of air, letting you mess with the mane of a thoroughly unamused lion.) Chomp’s control scheme is even simpler: just tap the illustration to elicit a response. Tap it repeatedly to trigger a series of unexpected animations. “There’s always this thin line between what you want and what actually happens, and in a way you want your expectations to be messed with,” Niemann says. “And I think that’s most important with humor.”

You might have gathered that Chomp is a little … unusual. It’s filled with dualities: It’s not quite a storybook, and not quite a video game. It’s ostensibly for kids, but its creative appeal is universal. It’s definitely digital, but feels analog. The app lives at the intersection of all these things, which is one reason it’s such fun to play.

Chomp2 Christoph Niemann

But with Chomp, as with Petting Zoo, the most salient feature is interactivity. “The one thing that I think everyone dreams of, from four-years-old onward, is this idea that you draw something, and if you touch the drawing, it comes alive,” Niemann says. Chomp adds a layer of whimsy by making your face the focal point. The app inserts its users into the narrative by streaming a video feed from the phone’s camera. This feed (typically of your face, though nothing stops you from turning the camera on someone or something else) can also be animated—moving, pinching, and stretching in response to the animation that appears on screen.

Seeing yourself as a half-illustrated, half-photographic image is a brilliant take on the avatar, which has grown almost boring in its quest for realism. “I somehow feel that a lot of people in tech are not really drawn to this idea of abstraction,” he says, adding that there are notable exceptions with Ustwo’s Monument Valley and Google Doodles. “And many people who really love drawing and abstraction are not often drawn to tech.” Chomp playfully moves between abstraction and realism in a way that few apps attempt to do.

The app also leverages society’s obsession with selfies by allowing users to take video or snap a photo of themselves in strange, animated scenarios. This feature, too, reflects Chomp’s proactive ethos. The app isn’t a passive experience in which you watch a character embark on an impersonal journey; it’s you, sort of, who stars in the story. Chomp encourages user to treat the illustrations as a backdrop for their own creativity.

chomp3 Christoph Niemann

Of course, you’re going to look ridiculous playing with Chomp—it’s hard not to, when your face appears on a dinosaur. But that’s the point. Even after spending three years on the app, Niemann still finds himself amused by it. “I never laugh at my own jokes,” he says. “But there are some scenes for Chomp that actually still make me giggle.”

Original link – 

Addictive App Called Chomp Gets You to Laugh at Your Own Face