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Imagining Exoplanets

Journeys to other worlds in Adam Makarenko’s Toronto workshop


There is a box under the worktable in Adam Makarenko's Toronto studio. Like the rubbish bin of some unhinged god, it contains hundreds of planets, each about the size of a fist.

This is Adam's sculptural library of imagined exoplanets. His works are modelled on real worlds that orbit stars light-years away. Each of his creations - rocky surfaces streaked with blue, gas giants with swirls of white and red - draws on the sparse data astronomers have collected, combined with the principles of planetary composition we have learned from our own solar system.

When these exoplanets are photographed against a dark backdrop, or juxtaposed against an elaborate set seething with lava or coated in crystalline spires, the images look as though they were beamed from another part of the Milky Way.

In reality, each exoplanet is made of plaster or Styrofoam that has been covered in glue or paint to add texture and colour. Adam's work shows us that advanced technology isn't always enough to bring humans to other worlds - exploring the galaxy requires imagination, too.