I’m Mitch Goldstein, and I’m an Associate Professor in the College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York, USA. The Obstructions Workshop is an ongoing, free, interactive, community based workshop that explores making and creative practice. The workshop is open to anyone in any creative discipline of any kind. This page will give you an introduction to the workshop, so you can get an idea of what it is all about. You can also take a look at the workshop Instagram account to see what people have been posting.

INTRODUCTION

In the film “The Five Obstructions,” Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier challenges his mentor Jørgen Leth to remake one of Leth’s short art films five times. Before starting each remake, von Trier gives Leth a series of absurd obstructions, or limitations, that Leth must adhere to. As Leth recreates his film, he makes work that is both wonderful and unexpected, and learns a lot about his own beliefs and motivations as a filmmaker.

I use this idea of working with limitations repeatedly with my students. This workshop is running basically the same way that I teach it during my classes at RIT. The goals of the workshop are threefold:

  • To help you make lots of stuff, which you can leave as is, or use as seeds of ideas for other projects. It will help you build a big body of work that is entirely yours to do anything you want.
  • To help you to develop new ideas about how to make things that you normally would never try. It forces you to make strange and unpredictable decisions about what you are going to make, and how you are going to make it.
  • To provide a catalyst for creative acts, which is especially relevant right now, when many of us are feeling isolated, unmotivated, and distracted by the state of the world. The workshop will provide something specific and tangible you can focus on.

In short, the way this workshop will run is quite simple: First, each person makes a Dropbox Paper page (for free), where they will post the work they make every week. Next, they will use this site to randomly pick some obstructions which will serve as prompts to make stuff for the week. Then, at the end of the week, everybody participating in the workshop will give each other feedback on Dropbox Paper. After they have given their feedback, they will start again by picking new obstructions and make work for the next week, and so on.

More details and specifics on the next page, but those are the basics — and this is almost exactly how I run this project in my classes (although, during class I do get the added pleasure of watching the reaction people have when they pick their ridiculous obstructions out of a bag.)

A NOTE ABOUT TIME & EXPECTATIONS

In an ideal world, participants would do this workshop every week and make things every single day. However, because you have other things going on in your life, you can drop in and out as needed, skip a week here or there. You can also make as much or as little work as you like. The workshop will run indefinitely, as long as people want to keep making. You can join or leave the workshop any time you wish. The workshop is now and will always be at no cost to anyone, there is only the expectation that you participate both in making your own things, and giving others feedback on the things they have made. The workshop is ongoing, so you can join at any time.

Cool? Cool. Let’s do this!

Go to the METHOD page to get started.