Post 692 –by 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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