New Red Order
The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets, 10 min, 2018
The germinal work of the public secret society New Red Order (NRO), The Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets focuses on the case surrounding the discovery of one of the oldest intact skeletons in North America, a 9,000 year old man unearthed from the ground in Kennewick, Washington in 1996. NRO demonstrate how these remains — which the Umatilla and other tribes refer to as the “Ancient One” — became an object of contestation, with everyone from scientists to white nationalists hypothesizing the man’s white ancestry, in turn propping up perverted fantasies of white peoples as the original settlers of the land and absolution of colonial guilt. NRO weave together news footage, digital objects, and footage of grotesquely masked humanoids, tracing a line from Thomas Jefferson through the Kennewick case and beyond, showing that Indigenous sovereignty is still continually under question from the settler colonial establishment. – Herb Shellenberger
Culture Capture 001 , 14 min, 2018
The looped work Culture Capture 001 takes place within the same museum as seen in NRO’s previous video. We come to recognize the masked figures observing Native American objects held inside the collection cases as accomplices of the public secret society. They diligently photograph, scan, and record these objects through smartphones, transferring the images and dimensional information of them into data to potentially be reconstituted and liberated from these settings. Though these objects are presented within the museum’s framings as static, historical, and fixed in the past, they are in fact lively and dynamic, entities within an embodied present. The “Culture Capture” project is introduced through demonstration as one of the potential processes that accomplices in the anticolonial struggle can undertake, toward liberating, reconfiguring, and transforming institutions towards reparative ends. – Herb Shellenberger
Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition, 8 min, 2019
Furthering the NRO’s direct action against salvage ethnography, Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition again didactically demonstrates strategies through which non-Indigenous accomplices can aid in the capture and spectral liberation of Native objects, sculptures, and documents. Contemporary discourse around the removal of European settler-colonial monuments faces criticisms of “the removal of history,” the pain of which Indigenous and native people know all too acutely. Rather than rest with removal upon removal, NRO propose an additive approach to monuments — including, for example, recreating settler-colonial monuments so they could be defaced. This additive approach can be accomplished through continual scanning, printing, and compositing of captured data, reconstituting objects within virtual or even “real” environments. – Herb Shellenberger
Culture Capture: Crimes Against Reality, 9 min, 2020
Crimes Against Reality — the apex of the Culture Capture series up to this point — pushes a mass of captured and scanned data from the real world to the virtual sphere. Several statues of native figures are scanned from multiple angles and distances and reconstituted within a digital environment. The captured data doesn’t need to be reconstituted as bronze (or even metal); instead these rock hard monuments become molded in flesh and muscle, with pink ooze recalling the protoplasmic sludge from Ghostbusters II. Eventually the shape and solidity of even these fleshy statues collapses and reconstitutes into a jellyfish-like blob, a virtual-organic sludge being that explores the dimensions of a museum-like glass encasement before breaking out of it entirely. – Herb Shellenberger
Do you want to realize your fullest potential? Be your truest self? Act with confidence? Attract abundance? Alleviate anxiety? Experience clarity? Know your purpose? Be the change you want to see? Be truly present? Experience real freedom? Change the world? Be a part of the solution?
On some level, we all want to feel this way, but sometimes in our globalized, capitalist, settler-colonial society it feels impossible. Which is why the New Red Order is developing a dynamic system to help our accomplices achieve all of this and more. – New Red Order, 2020
NRO’s provocations are not simply cancel-courting attempts to troll well-meaning but buffoonish progressive activists; their sly use of humor and double entendre transcend the woke/edgelord dichotomy in which so much of contemporary discourse gets trapped and silenced before it even starts. Their radical and half-parodic techniques are escape routes out of the guilt, shame, and uncertainty that so often lead even the most well-meaning allies to disinterested silence or despondent nihilism. NRO suggests that although settler guilt and shame may never be eliminated completely, it can be worked through, made useful, and eventually dissolved. At the heart of NRO’s visions for catalyzed Indigenous access and Indigenous futures is the idea that, for better or for worse, at some point there will have to be a We and We will have to work together.
NRO’s films continually reference the 2012 essay “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” in which Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang insist that true decolonization calls for the repatriation of all Indigenous land and life, a claim which, when taken at face value, is almost unimaginably ludicrous, profoundly unrealistic, and fundamentally unsettling. NRO adopts this position as its own; it makes the distinction between allies and accomplices, insisting that any true decolonial act is inherently against the law and encouraging willing NRO accomplices to commit “crimes against reality.” Without revealing too much, I can tell you that NRO is currently developing and refining speculative technology for committing crimes against the settler-colonial state, including “Culture Capture,” wherein accomplices infiltrate museums and use film and photography techniques to both spectrally liberate and repatriate stolen Indigenous objects from museums, and to virtually capture, distort, and destroy monuments to colonial violence. – Emily Allan
All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy ©New Red Order.
Further reading about New Red Order:
Join the Informants! – New Red Order
New Red Order and the Complexity of Process – Anna Harsyani
Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex – Indigenous Action Media