Adam Makarenko – Exoplanets & Interview
Sci-Fi-O-Rama resurrects with a very special feature on Canadian miniature Photographer and Film Maker Adam Makarenko.
An award-winning multi-talented Artist Adam’s obviously involved with a plethora of supremely interesting visual projects, but it’s his outrageously ambitious ‘exoplanets’ mission we focus in on.
Exoplanets, of course, are rarely out of the news these and the science to hunt them has come along way since the first definitive detection back in 1995 (Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva). Fast forward 22 years and as of the start of April 2017 confirmed exoplanets number over 3,500 and range from huge gas giants right down to worlds a similar size to our own precious Earth.
Just how earth like are these worlds, and are they suitable for life ? These are the tantalising questions cosmologists and biologists face today. To answer is a mammoth technical challenge, not unlike Adam’s endeavour to experiment and construct his vision of these far flung worlds in miniature.
In short this is some of the greatest work Sci-Fi-O-Rama has ever seen, here’s the inverview:
Adam first of all tell us about your background as an artist and film maker and what inspired you too undertake such an ambitious and original project?
I spent one summer taking pictures of real bees and apiaries, and I really enjoyed that experience, until winter arrived. All of a sudden I found myself wondering what else I was going todo. It was at this point where I decided to make a miniature world of bees and apiaries.This was my first project in miniature.
Before the current exoplanets series, I started a photographic series of miniature made space probes(that is still ongoing). I originally began making exoplanets, because I needed planetary backdrops for some of the probe scenes that I was creating. After a while, the exoplanet work just took off on its own. Now both series run in tandem with each other.
Space exploration interests me for a number of reasons. It dares to ask the biggest question we have: Is there life elsewhere in the universe? Finding life is the holy grail of space exploration, and this search drives us forward.
I am also interested in the paradoxical nature to the whole process. Right now, we have no way of getting to these places. We would have to develop some very advanced propulsion systems and in some cases travel at the speed of light (if it were possible). But even at the speed of light, we still wouldn’t reach many of these places in a reasonable amount of time. Some of the distances are so huge that these exoplanets are completely out of bounds in regards to spacetime.
But regardless of these obstacles, I am still inspired by the search for exoplanets. I think I am driven to create exoplanets in response to this obstacle if that makes any sense. If we can’t physically get there, then I’ll explore these places through my imagination.
Not too give too much away but can you give us a rough idea of the processes involved and timescales with creating each shot?
Everything that I make in miniature requires a lot of experimentation. There are no how-to instruction books on making miniatures (at least the kind that I make), so I have to usually invent techniques as I go along. The result of this can be arduous, and time-consuming. I can usually make a few planets per day, but the alien landscapes are massive and can take anywhere from a week to a few months to complete.
Voyaging through your Exoplanets catalogue It would seem your able to craft and endless variety of planetary compositions, how much Science fact is involved?
For the Exoplanet series, I’ve tried to follow the current scientific data, but I also go beyond it. We are at the beginning stages of Exoplanet science, so the data being collected is still limited.
Once the James Webb Telescope is in operation I am sure we will have more data about these exoplanets – what they are made up of – if they have water and oxygen atmospheres.
I try to base a lot of the planets that I make around the knowledge we currently have on our own solar system/and planet Earth, especially with volcanism, and geysers that are spewing out of moons. Geology and topography could also be very similar throughout the other planetary systems. There may be some variances on planets with more gravity or different weather systems, but I think generally we can assume that other planets around other stars are going to be similar to the variety of planets we have revolving around our own sun.
Ringed Gas Giants, Far-flung Icy Rocks, or hell like Demon Planets? do you have a personal preference when building worlds and is there a checklist of types to do?
I want to make every kind of planet imaginable. I am trying to stretch the possibilities, so I can reach the goal of making 1000 planets without doing the exact same thing over and over. It’s a great way to challenge myself, whether it’s a new angle/perspective, or the type of planet I am making.
The images that are sent back from space probes have been very influential for me. There is an abundance of images out there that we are familiar with. For example – Saturn, Jupiter, and now Pluto. These are really good resources that I can draw my influences from.
I’d say your in as good as position as any to ask, Whats your thoughts on finding life out there?
I am absolutely certain there is life elsewhere in the universe – even in our own solar system. I look at the emergence of life (which may have started many times on Earth), and evolution as a universal concept. Why should we be considered so special? I am not sure how soon we will find extraterrestrial life, but I am certain of one thing: we will find it. Many scientists were initially sceptical about the existence of other planets revolving around other stars, but now they think that every star has at least one planet orbiting around it. It’s only a matter of time before we find life out there.
Beyond your exoplanet work your have pretty incredible video portfolio, can you tell us a bit more about what you’re involved with at the moment?
I am making a feature documentary about a strange mysterious low frequency hum emanating from an industrial island called Zug location on the Detroit River (situated on the border between Canada and the US). The sound has been plaguing the residents of windsor since 2011, yet no one can determine the source of the hum, or what’s causing it. A steel mill has been operating on the island for the last one hundred years, but there wasn’t any hum prior to 2011. Within the film I am also using miniatures to tell parts of the story for re-enactment sequences.
Many thanks again to Adam, a fantastic vehicle to reboot Sci-Fi-O-Rama. If you want to follow Adam’s Exoplanet voyage directly then just follow him over at his Instagram page or via his portfolio site directly: www.adammakarenko.com
Alternatively, if you’d like to check out more on his forthcoming ‘Zug Island’ feature www.zugislanddocumentary.com Hopefully something we will feature in the not too hazy future.
Sci-Fi-O-Rama will be back soon…