For the past 17 years Dutch installation artist Mark Manders has built an intriguing body of work about blocked messages and emotion. His current project, “Isolated Rooms,” which continues the themes of an ongoing project called “Self-Portrait as a Building,” consists of 14 wryly austere pieces–8 at the Art Institute and 6 at the Renaissance Society–that use such sculpted objects as miniature smokestacks, leafless trees, eviscerated human torsos, and stuffed rats. In a work at the Art Institute, Manders has stashed a pile of his own clothes under a table. In a piece at the Renaissance Society, “Writing Room/Fiction Machine,” a white typewriter blocks entry into a small, roofless, black-walled room. “Toilet With Reconstructed Nocturnal Garden Scene” fills a small bathroom at the Art Institute–a bleak industrial landscape with a torsolike mound atop six chairs, all placed directly in front of a urinal as if the work wanted to relieve itself. “Television Room With Vanishing Points,” also at the Art Institute, sets a TV an inch from the wall of a gallery, as if allowing the building to watch it all day. “All of my works are about the absence of me,” said Manders during a gallery talk in mid-September. But later he checked his impulse to reveal: “If I write everything down, the reader can read my thoughts.” Renaissance Society, Univ. of Chicago, Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis, fourth floor, through November 2. Hours are 10 to 5 Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 Saturday and Sunday; 773-702-8670. Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams, through January 4. Hours are 10:30 to 4:30 Monday, 10:30 to 8 Tuesday, 10:30 to 4:30 Wednesday through Friday, and 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday; 312-443-3600.