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There’s a pretty easy way to distinguish the best works in “The Structure of Spirit, Design of the Heart,” a sprawling exhibit at the American Institute of Architects by longtime Washington photographer Kenneth M. Wyner. If you see any furniture or recognize any interior decoration, move on. If you see office space, run in the other direction. But if you see a landscape or an abstraction, linger a while. In one image, Wyner harnesses his quirkily kaleidoscopic approach to turn a skylight with blond wood beams into a circular form that suggests a propeller. In others, he turns the unlikeliest of subjects (the National Archives, or Wolf Trap) into brooding abstractions that suggest movie posters for Batman and X-Men. Wyner’s choice of materials is inspired: Some works are printed on translucent fabric, while many use brushed aluminum. The aluminum offers a stunning base for Wyner’s fine-grained images—-dreamy cirrus clouds drifting over a local synagogue, or a moody nocturne of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, with silky, waterborne reflections of skyscrapers set against a mesmerizing, dark blue sky. But Wyner’s piece de resistance is a large-scale, circular image of the built environment of New York City, a highly detailed yet fantastical demimonde that seems straight out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Through Oct. 28, at the headquarters of the American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 202-626-7300.