Virtual Structures of Sabotage

February 16, 2024 6:00 PM–8:00 PM

4919 Frew Street
College of Fine Arts Room 111
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Aria Dean, New Red Order, Touchstone Cinema, Inbar Hagai, Rebecca Shapass

Touchstone Cinema returns to the STUDIO Friday February 16th at 6PM!

Join us for a screening and conversation with artist|critic|curator Aria Dean  and New Red Order.

Virtual Structures of Sabotage brings together two video works that explore the possibility of virtual space as a site for sabotage: New Red Order’s “Culture Capture: Crimes Against Reality” and Aria Dean’s “Abattoir USA!” The screening will be followed by a conversation with Dean and the members of New Red Order (Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys) who will join us remotely via Zoom.

The conversation will probe the ways in which virtual cinema can be used as a means of sabotage. Whether the digital realm is used to break boundaries of access or to make peculiar what are known structures of violence, the program and discussion seek to propose ways in which virtual manipulation can be harnessed for incisive critiques of architectural manifestations of violent systems.

“Abattoir, U.S.A.!” surveys the interior of an empty slaughterhouse, animated using Unreal Engine. Her film follows a linear path through an impossible architecture—a seamless combination of 19th, 20th, and 21st-century design elements and non-Euclidean spaces rather than a direct model of an existing building.

“Culture Capture: Crimes Against Reality” explores the transformation of monuments into living entities through photogrammetric capture and virtual manipulation, delving into the underlying motivations behind settler-colonial propaganda and investigating the enduring desires to capture indigeneity in American society.

New Red Order (NRO) is a public secret society facilitated by core contributors Jackson Polys, Adam Khalil, and Zack Khalil. Polys is a multi-disciplinary artist who examines negotiations toward the limits and viability of desires for Indigenous growth. He holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University and was the recipient of a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship. Adam Khalil is a filmmaker and artist whose practice attempts to subvert traditional forms of image making through humor, relation, and transgression. He received his B.A. from Bard College and is co-founder of COUSINS Collective. Zack Khalil is a filmmaker and artist whose work explores an Indigenous worldview and undermines traditional forms of historical authority through the excavation of alternative histories and the use of innovative documentary forms. He received his B.A. at Bard College in the Film and Electronic Arts Department, and is a UnionDocs Collaborative Fellow and Gates Millennium Scholar. Their work has appeared at Artists Space, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Toronto Biennial 2019, Walker Arts Center, and Whitney Biennial 2019, among other institutions.

New Red Order (NRO) works with networks of informants and accomplices to create grounds for Indigenous futures. NRO emerges in contradistinction to an older, extant secret society dubbed “The Improved Order of the Red Men,” an American organization, revived in 1934 as a whites-only fraternity, whose redface rituals and regalia are inspired by the country’s most famous, foundational act of Indigenous appropriation: the donning of Mohawk disguises by the Sons of Liberty during the Boston Tea Party. If the foundation of settler society rests both on desires for indigeneity and the violent displacement of Indigenous land and life, NRO asks how those desires could be channeled toward productive and sustainable ends.


Aria Dean is an artist, writer, and filmmaker based in New York City whose work across the moving image, writing, sculpture, and installation mounts a critique of representational systems, examining the structures of individual and collective subjectivity in relation to aesthetics, cultural histories, and technology. Her work has been shown at film festivals internationally including IFFR (Rotterdam), Villa Medicis Film Festival (Rome), and New York Film Festival (New York.). Her films have also been screened at Metrograph (New York), Now Instant (Los Angeles), and TIFF Cinematheque (Toronto).  She has exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally; recent exhibitions include Figuer Sucia at Greene Naftali, New York (2023), “Abattoir, U.S.A!” At the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2023); “Quiet as It’s Kept: Whitney Biennial 2022” at The Whitney Museum, New York (2022). She received a Graham Foundation Research and Development Grant in 2021. Her first book of collected writing is out via Sternberg Press and her second publication, a catalog for “Abattoir, U.S.A”! Is out in 2024. From 2016-2021, Dean worked as a curator and editor at born-digital institution Rhizome, co-organizing the exhibition and co-editing the book.


Touchstone Cinema is the curatorial project of moving-image artists Inbar Hagai & Rebecca Shapass. The ongoing screening series is dedicated to facilitating discourse around artworks that challenge and push the cinematic form.

The event is sponsored by the Sylvia and David Steiner Speaker Series of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry & the Center for the Arts in Society at CMU.