The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will be hosting Los Angeles-based artist and creative coder Adam Ferriss as part of their IGNITE colloquium, where attendees will have the opportunity to learn to make their own face filters.

Ferriss, who currently works for Instagram as a creative coder, will be speaking about his career as an artist as well as giving attendees a tutorial on Spark AR, an augmented reality software used to make face filters for Instagram and Facebook. The Zoom event, on April 23, is free to the public and students, and the link can be found on the UNL Events page.

Ferriss first became interested in media art while taking an interactive media class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In this class, Ferriss said he was introduced to programming, and he was able to refine his skills when got his first job in a dark room after graduation.

“I got really into programming, and after I graduated I got a job in the darkroom at the college,” Ferriss said. “I spent a lot of nights and weekends working this job without much action, and so I had a lot of time to teach myself how to program. I slowly became better and better.”

Ferriss said that he was drawn to coding and media art because it differentiated him from his peers in a technologically advancing society.

“When I graduated undergrad, the iPhone had come out like two or three years prior, and mobile phones were getting better and better cameras,” Ferriss said. “So all of the sudden, this photo degree I had, it just felt increasingly less useful. Learning to code was a way to differentiate myself from my peers and what was commonly accessible at the time.”

After leaving his job at the college, Ferris moved to Los Angeles and began working at another college as the darkroom manager. He continued learning to code and began gaining recognition from posting his work on Tumblr. 

Ferriss met UNL assistant professor of emerging media arts Jesse Fleming while pursuing his Master of Fine Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their friendship is part of the reason Ferriss was picked for the colloquium, according to Fleming.

“Adam is a friend, and we were graduate students together back at UCLA years ago,” Fleming said. “He is part of a network of artists that I say have a likeness to the emerging media arts program in the sense that they’re working with new and emerging platforms as well as technology for the sake of artistic expression.”

This semester, Fleming is teaching a class called Visual Expression Studio where he is teaching students how to work with augmented reality. Fleming said that this was another driving factor in bringing Ferriss to speak at UNL. 

“I thought it would be a great pairing to expose our students to artists like Adam,” Fleming said. “Adam can show them, not only his work, but what is the edge of the industry side of augmentation.”

Ferriss’ presentation will be the eighth event in the colloquium series that has been showcasing guest lectures, workshops and seminars about creative and professional development. Through this presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the computational world, something that Ferriss said is important for artists.

“Computation is everywhere,” Ferriss said. “It’s controlling our lives and I think it’s important for us to be poking at the edges and seeing what is inside of all these systems. I think that artists have a way of exposing some of that underlying structure in a way that is poetic or reinterpreted in new ways.”