VANDALISM -Issues of Design 27

Post 692by Gautam Shah



Vandalism is willful destruction of property and culture. Property and culture are spacious words. Property includes buildings, structured public assets, art, artefacts etc. Culture covers political, religious, economic and social systems, and institutional arrangements. A property can subsume culture, so any danger to former is a threat to the later. Vandalism is as much a personal act and common act of individuals, as it is conduct emulated by individuals with some commonality, so group-based conduct.

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Vandalism is interpreted as criminal damage, misdemeanor mischievous behaviour, malicious or otherwise trespassing, breach of privacy, felony offense intentional indifference. Vandalism laws are designed to prohibit and discourage the such conduct.


Vandalism is an attempt to change the existing set of things or order. It may not involve annihilation or removal of things. On occasions, the actions are directed to the owner, authority or God. And even if the search for them is solvable, but the vandals may have nothing to correspond except the intense desire to register their presence.

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Destructive actions can be ascribed to anger or envy, or to spontaneous, opportunistic behaviour. The action may be for peer acceptance or bravado in gang cultures. The cause of disgruntlement with a person or society could be absence of a target. Private citizens commit vandalism by willfully damaging or ignoring the damage to the property of others or the common assets.

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Vandalism against the common values of the group or society may arise for not being included or invited. It may be that the opposed values are too prominent and so the target. Values enshrined in properties are challenged when changes for betterment or creative interventions are made without due permission or authorization are made. Values are compromised when subtle or explicit ideological ‘messages’ are conveyed through public expression or conveyance through social media. The vandalism may occur when values conveyed through a declaration may be subjectively interpreted as harmful or annoying.

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In the world of internet and social medial vandalism takes the shape of ethical and revengeful hacking of domains and data there in. It may also include persistent and massive ‘trolling’ through hash-tags.

9 Burning of the Euromaidan headquarters in the Trade Unions Building.

Political vandalism is ideological ingress leading to protests, riots. So far it remains an expression it can be tackled through debate. But it can turn an expression of hatred and intimidation. Vandalism can be perceived as a legitimate act, and a social warning for course correction. So minor action may be ignored.

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In Design and other fields, plagiarism of concepts is equated with vandalism. Similarly altering, correcting, extending, renovation, removal of someone’s creation is always debatable, and borders to an act of vandalism. These include morphing, photo-shopped images, edited videos, etc. Other acts of design barbarism are ‘under or short’ designing a brief, overshooting budget, ignoring the stakeholders, generating non-performing solutions and infringing other professionals’ duties.

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The name Vandals is connected to that of Vendel, a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes initially from the name of a province in Uppland, Sweden. It is believed that Vandals migrated from here to establish kingdoms in Spain and then North Africa in the 5th C. Renaissance and early-modern writers characterized the Vandals as barbarians who sacked and looted Rome. This led to the use of the term vandalism to describe any senseless barbaric defacing of artwork. The etymology of vandal may be related to a Germanic verb wand -to wander.


This is the 27th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN



Post 487  by Gautam Shah



Heritage is a place, object, location, natural condition, tradition, lifestyle, or ideology, which survive for generations. It passes through love, hatred, cares, veneration, neglect, change, conservation, reformation and destructions. But heritage persists in physical traces and metaphorically ingrained in communications, expressions, mentions or records. It becomes indelible part of the lore. An object must have a real or perceived place, a place needs an effective location or description, and the place, its location or description stays with the people. Heritage is comprehensive image that is set in the society. The society or its sections may liken or detest it, but it continues. The image at times, manifests differently to different people.


Mallikarjuna and Kasivisvanatha temples at Pattadakal > Attribution Dineshkannambadi at English Wikipedia

Stone age iron smelting community of Sukur in Adamawa State, Northern Nigeria > pic from Wikipedia by StefanCramer

Architetural Heritage

Heritage is something conveyed intentionally or inadvertently to someone or society. It is something of extraordinary creation, or inherited from the past, it can be practices, characteristics or possession, valued enough to be useful to future generations. It provides people with a sense of identity and continuity. It provides knowledge and fail-safe solutions. Heritage is perceived through cuisine, clothing, lifestyles, artefacts, tools, music, movies, styles of shelter, skills and technologies, religious ceremonies, and performing arts.


Bongsan mask dance Korea > by photoren –

The physical heritages have visually perceptible character of own, reinforced by the surroundings and focussed by the current circumstances. Symbolic heritages emerge through the holistic character from varying level of cross references or connections in time and space. A physical heritage may get naturally defaced or vandalized, but its images remain in the folklore. So folklore gets enlivened when it connects to even minor trace or evidence of a building, location, objects, or other folklore. The process works more vigorously in other direction. A forgotten physical trace acquires new interest when a fable has mentioned it.

Graves at Al Ayn Oman

China vIllage


UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 member nations names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. During the last 200 years it has been experienced that wider platform for heritage brings it out of the parochial interests of nationalities, races, cultures and other sectoral categories. Cultural Heritage is now a wider concept where similarities between the various heritage sectors rather than their differences are studied.

Terraces of precipitated calcium carbonate inside Škocjan Caves, Slovenia Attribution: Lander atsl.wikipedia

Various cultures or civilizations represent time and space sections of the humanity. There have been many revivals of the ‘usable pasts’ that have helped heritage consciousness. International heritage conscience is a movement that creates new set of standards for recognition of ethical and natural properties.

Upper Gate of the Lock minor Mustela the old Saimaa Canal Pic from Wikipedia

The heritage site, location or entity must be an extra ordinary representation of ‘human creative genius and cultural significance’ over a span of time. It could be a ‘living civilization or which has disappeared’. It could be living practice, set of traditions or beliefs, artistic and literary works of outstanding nature. As a natural property, a heritage site represents extra ordinary natural phenomena or evolution processes of nature. It may be a location of current ecological and biological awareness.

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel girls handling tickers and stock exchange boards.