Carnegie Mellon University

Virtual Structures of Sabotage

Sylvia and David Steiner Speaker Series

February 16, 2024 - 6:00pm
Frank-Ratchye STUDIO For Creative Inquiry (CFA 111)
Free and open to the public

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.

About the films

“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.

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. 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). Her first book of collected writing is out via Sternberg Press and her second publication, a catalog for Abattoir, U.S.A! will be published in 2024.

This event is organized by Touchstone Cinema, 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.