Meet Talan Memmott, a professor of Mass Communication at Winona State University. 

Dr. Memmott is the founder of the Creative Digital Media program at Winona State—and recently an artist featured in a University of California Berkeley exhibition.

Photographer: Caroline Yang

Who Is Talan Memmott?

Before joining WSU, Dr. Memmott taught and developed academic programs all over the country—from Georgia to Colorado to California—and even abroad in Sweden.

Then in 2017, he took what he learned from other institutions and created what is now Winona State’s Creative Digital Media (CDM) program.

He enjoys teaching at WSU the most, and he’s proud of how much the program has grown since then.

His favorite part about teaching at Winona State is seeing students’ breakthrough, or “eureka,” moments and building solid relationships with them.

He says that CDM students often inspire his own creative work.

Dr. Memmott’s fight with throat cancer also influences his work in representing disability. Many of his digital media and mass communication projects creatively expose throat cancer for what it is and raise awareness for the disease.

Fun Facts

  • In his teens, Dr. Memmott played in punk bands and even toured with the Dead Kennedys as an opening act.
  • Dr. Memmott is still part of a band today, called Clickbait, and he plays alongside Davin Heckman—another Winona State professor. The band’s songs mainly focus on internet memes.

What Is Dr. Memmott Doing in the Field?

Dr. Memmott is part of an international artificial intelligence (AI) research group. 

The group began in Norway, and although its researchers primarily focus on AI writing, they have also been diving into text-to-image generators. Dr. Memmott gets to work with renowned researchers from Denmark, Washington, Massachusetts, and more.

Dr. Memmott has been creating art with AI and it has been a personal interest of his for several years, even before AI became majorly popular. His art previously appeared at conferences in Paris and Portugal, and it was recently part of the “More Than Meets AI” exhibition at the University of California Berkeley. 

Winona State even offers artistic conference opportunities for students, like the International Digital Media & Arts Association (iDMAa). Dr. Memmott looks forward to giving the keynote speech at this year’s iDMAa conference in June because it brings together the WSU community to explore wild media.

How Does Creative Digital Media Help Students Succeed?

The Creative Digital Media program offers students access to top-tier faculty with loads of industry experience and hands-on practice in digital video, interactive environments, and digital storytelling. 

The CDM program is unique to the Minnesota State System because it encourages students to investigate how new technologies like AI fit into cultures. 

Dr. Memmott is especially interested in challenging students to think about both the creative uses of AI as well as the critical and ethical concerns—which ultimately prepares students for a world of change and to think like leaders.

How Mass Communication Integrates AI into Classes

  • In Photography Appreciation, students learn about photographic truth and how AI “deep fakes” and image generation can change people’s expectations of photographic authenticity.
  • Students use AI to create images and video and to brainstorm project ideas in Interactive Environments and other courses.
  • In Media Lab, students explore AI text-to-image generators as a language, rather than visual, practice.

The title of this blog was inspired by ChatGPT and serves as a testament to the brainstorming power of AI.