By Mark Jenkins
The photographic duo known as Oculoire has a French name and a French vibe. Ned Riley and Phil Hernandez acknowledge the influence of Brassai and Cartier-Bresson, Gallic masters from the golden age of black-and-white; their high-contrast pictures also recall France’s film-noir and New Wave cinema. But the two collaborators, who don’t specify who does what, use skateboards rather than jetliners to reach their locations. The futuristic vista that’s the centerpiece of the team’s self-titled Cross MacKenzie Gallery show suggests a still from Godard’s “Alphaville,” but it actually depicts the supports of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
That photo takes an upward view, which is common in Oculoire’s work. The duo calls its style “street photography,” but the street is often less a subject than a vantage point for gazing up or sideways — frequently into the deep blacks of shadow or night. Oculoire uses both electronic and film formats, but the goal is make pictures that appear to predate digital imagery. Staring into the darkness is a means of stepping into the past.
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