Whether 3-D movies are here to stay probably doesn’t matter to David Emerick and James Matthew Crooks: The two photographers are stubbornly fixated on life in two dimensions. Emerick, the director of new media at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, photographs the largely unadorned walls of big-box stores and warehouses. But the spaces’ very anonymity—and their similarities to each other—make many of the images in Emerick’s show, “Variations,” somewhat unvaried. The ones that stand out are those with a feature, however small, that breaks the dominant plane, such as a vent cover that casts a dramatic, daggerlike diagonal shadow. Crooks, who presents similar material in the concurrent “Opposing Planes,” finds a little more success within his self-imposed 2-D confines, partly because he’s bolder in using color (such as a pattern of alternating white and red painted squares) and shape (a sharply angular spire jutting into the sky, a sinuously curving sign studded with rows of yellow light bulbs). But the most compelling image by either artist is surely Crooks’ “Iron Side” (pictured), a close-up of the tops of four weathered metal bolts whose rounded forms are startlingly erotic.
The exhibitions are on view noon to 5 p.m. Monday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday to Aug. 26 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Court NW. Free.