WALNUT CREEK -- Athlete, or artist ... or how about both simultaneously? That just about describes 25-year-old digital media artist Genki Hagata.
He is about to embark on creating an ambitious video installation piece that promises to be both scenic and interactive. It also may be good for burning a few calories, but not nearly as many as Hagata himself will burn for his project.
Starting in mid-September, Walnut Creek native Hagata plans to bike 350 miles from San Jose to Santa Barbara, along the scenic swerving California coast, in just three days. For the benefit of those of us less athletically inclined, Hagata will capture his ride in real time using a very high tech (and tiny) video camera mounted on the front of his helmet.
Hagata's goal is to then mount a giant video installation in an art gallery to project his video from his ride. But instead of passively standing there and watching the scenery go by, the viewer will have to pedal a stationary bicycle in the gallery to activate the projection of images onto the screen.
"I really want it to be about the visuals, about what you see," explained Hagata, now a Bay Point resident and currently completing a degree in digital art at San Jose State University. "It will be an immersive visually stunning experience. You will cycle through my journey."
Called Pedal California, Hagata described his project as "a modern blend of outdoor adventure, digital media and nature."
A gymnast as a Clayton Valley High School student, Hagata taught gymnastics at Concord's Encore Gymastics and now races motorcycles when not working at his commercial branding and web design business. He has been prepping for both the project's digital art and athletic side.
An earlier digital art project he created was based on fireflies. When the viewer shook a glass Mason jar placed on a pedestal, tiny LED lights inside lit up like fireflies. The LED lights simultaneously activated the projection on a facing wall of a video of live fireflies.
Not all high-tech, Hagata also carries a paper notebook, which he fills with his pen and ink sketches and calligraphy.
To prepare for the endurance of riding eight hours a day, he has been doing what he refers to as "centuries" -- 100-mile rides in and around Mt. Diablo.
"I ride from Concord to Brentwood, over the Altamont Pass through Pleasanton and Danville and back to Walnut Creek," he explained.
Although Hagata is going DIY as much as possible, making his own custom camera mount and later planning to build the projection wall himself, the fate of the entire project hinges on the success of his Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is an Internet-based way for people to raise money for creative projects, and is mostly dependent on the kindness of strangers.
With a goal of about $5,500, he is about one third of the way there. but his self-imposed deadline to raise the money is Sunday night.
"It is stressful watching the progress of my Kickstarter campaign, but I am confident that I will make it," he said.
To learn more about the project, or to contribute to it, go online to www.kickstarter.com/projects/894626357/experience-riding-the-ca-coast-interactive-install