Every question is an action with which to test the limits of the world. For programmers like my mother, a “ping” stands for a simple software protocol that sends out data packets to a remote host, in order to observe the return time and data loss in the message response. Modeled conceptually on the echolocation of sonar, a ping is a way for a computer to understand its virtual context and network neighbors. However, in contrast with sonar, a ping must be addressed to a specific destination in order to operate.
For a practicing designer, curator, and educator, the question of the question has an everyday dimension. For me, questioning is not a starting point, but rather an in-between moment in the ongoing creative process. In order to ask a question, I must first have something specific to query. So questioning, like critique, often happens after I have already semi-intuitively generated an object—whether an initial visual sketch, a rough exhibition concept, or even a first draft for a text such as this one—which can then be tested against the requirements of the brief [End Page 44] and evaluated more broadly within the world. Rapid prototyping in design describes a method of ongoing production and real-time adjustment as an iterative process, in which something is learned through each successive attempt. This means critiquing both the context and yourself continuously, observing what works and what needs to be remade, embracing the back-and-forth echoing of signals, responses, and signals anew.
PREM KRISHNAMURTHY is a faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and is a designer and curator. His work as a founding principal of the design studio Project Projects has led him to collaborations with the Art Institute of Chicago, CCS Bard, Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, and many more. He has edited several books including MATRIX / Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Speculating on Change; currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the online journal Triple Canopy and also as the Associate Editor of the art journal Paper Monument.