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Recently, I ran across the aesthetic videos of the talented Ukranian artist and director, Dima Bondarenko. Like many people who don’t cook well, I sometimes watch cooking shows: partly for inspiration but mostly to admire those who can. I’ve seen many artistic videos that present food as the mouth-watering, rich sensory experience that it should be. However, nothing I’ve seen so far compares to the the stunning tabletop artistic videos of Dima Bondarenko.

Bondarenko takes deliciousness to a whole new level, presenting food as as an amazing aesthetic experience. His videos are in some respects reminiscent of the classical traditions of Hedonism (which, unfortunately, we’ve reduced in modern connotations to wanton sex) and Epicureanism (that we’ve reduced to luxurious and excessive tastes or habits, particularly in food).  Under Bondarenko’s masterful touch, Hedonism and Epicureanism regain their richer, classical meanings. Just take a look for yourselves at this sumptuous artistic video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtn4tENF9XQ]

In the video above, we can almost taste the sliced and diced green apples depicted in vivid color; the blueberries engulfed in the softness of the yogurt; the strawberries falling into the waves of white milk; the peaches sinking softly into the rich cream. The drinks rise, splash, sparkle and foam in a display of color, texture and flow that tantalizes and stimulates all of our senses. Each beat of the music chosen by the director fits with the movement of the delectable food, making Dima Bondarenko’s artistic video a Hedonistic dream and an Epicurean feast for the senses.

It’s true that Hedonism, associated with the Greek philosopher Democritus (460 B.C. – 370 B.C.), placed emphasis upon pleasure–particularly sensual pleasure–as the highest intrinsic good. But the rich philosophical tradition of Hedonism became broader than this goal and compatible with other-regarding ethical norms. The Cyrenaics, for instance, an ultra-Hedonist school supposedly founded by Aristippus of Cyrene (460 B.C.-370 B.C), was actually a Socratic school of thought. As such, it placed emphasis not only upon pleasure, but also upon altruism and social obligations. With the Cyrenaics, Hedonism came to be seen not as the excess or indulgence we associate it with today, but as the art of enjoyment in moderation, to maximize pleasure by avoiding pain. No binges, no excess: just savoring every delicious bite of food; tasting each of your lover’s kisses, to better enjoy the experience, without either feeling or causing pain.

Nowadays, we usually associate enjoying food with Epicureanism rather than Hedonism. For some reason, we tend to view Hedonism more in terms of sex and sensuality and Epicureanism more in terms of food and drink. In fact, in Greek culture, Epicurianism eventually displaced Hedonism as the philosophy of pleasure. Based upon the teachings of Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), this school of thought argued that true happiness comes from ataraxia: a life of modest, moderate pleasures that give human beings a state of tranquility,  understood as the freedom from fear and the absence of pain. In my estimation, this is precisely what Bondarenko’s tabletop artistic videos encourage. Through their masterful visual and musical displays, they somehow enable us to take in the color, the taste, the aroma, the flavor and the feel of each bite of food and of each swallow of drink, without excess, to better enjoy the aesthetic and sensory pleasure of the culinary experience. A message is spelled out in the single word featured in this video, amidst a burst of enticing fruit: live! Live healthy and happy.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com