Recently, Simon and I took the VIA Survey to discover our core characteristics and qualities. According to their website, 4,482,912 people in all countries on the planet have taken the survey, which is described as a "psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths," which "are viewed as our positive personality in that they are our core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to us and others."
Upon completing the survey, we discovered that an "Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence" ranked in both of our top three character strengths (out of a total of twenty-four options). A recommended exercise to boost this strength is to maintain what they call a "beauty log":
"When you believe you are seeing something beautiful—whether it is from nature, is human-made (e.g.,artwork), or is the virtuous behavior of others—write it down. Describe the beauty in a few sentences."
It's a powerful practice to actively notice, acknowledge and record the wonders all around us. We invite you to join us in actively seeking out and making a note of beauty in a world that’s become increasingly chaotic. Here are 10 recent things we've taken the time to appreciate:
10. The Limitless, The Absolute by Sougwen
Our new friend Sougwen Chung creates immersive pieces of art that span drawing, video, animation, 3d, sound and installation. The organic, undulating lines are created by the movements of Sougwen's own hand as well as her robotic arm that she calls D.O.U.G. Watch the delicate shifting patterns by clicking the image below.
9. Great Performers: L.A. NOIR
Nine L.A.-noir style black and white virtual reality films by The New York Times and Milk Studios—one of the most interesting examples of VR filmmaking we’ve seen yet, with a 360-degree dimly-lit set and a group of some of Hollywood’s greatest actors.
8. American Honey
We finally got to see this almost 3-hour long story over burgers and beers at the Syndicated Theater in Bushwick. I love the way British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, inspired by her own road trips through America, uses professional actors (like Shia LaBeouf) and non-actors alike to weave this tale of Middle American youth culture; she found the lead actress, Sasha Lane, previously working as a waitress in Texas, on a beach over spring break. Great adventure story, awesome soundtrack, and beautiful moments of connection with the natural world.
7. Homemade baked goods and a hand-painted card on our back porch
Our new next-door neighbor, Molly, the winter healer in resident at Maha Rose North, left a lovely care package of not one but three different baked goods and a beautiful hand painted card to welcome us to our temporary home in the woods. What a lovely thing: community, good neighbors, homemade art and treats.
6. Frozen River in Woodstock
Yesterday we took a walk through Comeau Park in Woodstock, New York. We trudged down the paths of the frozen forest and when we reached the edge of Saw Kill Creek, the river rocks were covered in sheets of delicate icicles that we admired through the wispy clouds of our warm breath. We try to unplug during these walks and leave the phone behind, so there's no photo to share, but here's some facts about the benefits of what the Japanese call "forest bathing"; we're big proponents of walking in nature everyday to recharge and stay focused.
5. A Stand by DERSU
We’ve been rocking these melodic deep house and world music beats in the NORTH + NOMAD studio. Great vibes from LA-based VICE Design Director, Dersu Rhodes.
A hybrid resort, long-form 10-week festival and wellness retreat on a private island in Croatia, complete with healthy eats, tarot cards, sunrise meditation, yoga, music by the likes of Gilles Peterson and Anderson Paak. This looks like our kind of magical vacation.
3. Pipilotti Rist :: Pixel Forest :: New Museum
We had the pleasure of experiencing this mesmerizing, kaleidoscopic light and video art show at the New Museum, which spanned 30 years of the Swiss artist's work. Intimate and immersive, dreamy and hypnotizing.
"In my work I imagine a lot of new possible ways of being. I imagine that life would be better if we didn’t have only two genders, but perhaps twenty different ones, so that they wouldn’t be so important or the source of so much pain. I imagine that women could have the same space and authority as men. I imagine women as vitruvian men: I imagine that they can be themselves and also represent humanity. and I think my work is an attempt at making visible the way we feel and exist within ourselves.’ - Pipilotti Rist
Photo below via DesignBoom
2. HOW TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE by Jonathan Fields
If you pass us on the streets or subways of NYC with earbuds in and a smile on our faces, it’s safe to assume we’re probably listening to the Good Life Project by Jonathan Fields. Some of the lessons from those podcasts have been turned into a new book is full of beautiful ideas about how to improve and optimize our days; here's an excerpt to consider:
“Think of your life as three buckets. The first bucket is called Vitality, and it’s about the state of your mind and body. The second is Connection; this one is about relationships. The third, Contribution, is about how you contribute to the world. The fuller your buckets, the better your life. When all simultaneously bubble over, life soars. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
1. MOONLIGHT: An achingly beautiful coming-of-age story about sexuality, belonging, and addiction from A24 and director Barry Jenkins. Gorgeous cinematography, compelling screenplay, wonderful score and fantastic acting across the board. An inspiring reminder about why we got into filmmaking in the first place.
What noteworthy beauty have you encountered recently? Have a recommendation on something lovely to check out? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.