‘pater le bourgeoisie long ago went intraclass tribal (and tiresome): elements of the Bourg yokking it up when something they appreciate irritates THAT LOT over yonder, then suddenly all self-righteously pompous when THAT LOT’s art riles THEM in turn. ‘pater les bits of le bourgeoisie I’m not in is a less important project, surely? Anyway, that’s not quite what I want to write about. The Sunday Daddino and I walked the South Bank’s Art Mile tourist-style, from Tate Modern to the Design Museum, we saw plenty of nice stuff. WEATHER, by Olafur Eliasson, is tremendous (no link bcz spoilers might actually be spoilers here, a bit – except haha to note that the news-story that the vapour is causing Tate staff to hallucinate and feel queasy, when it’s only sugar plus water, demonstrates the occasional power of SHEER AESTHETICS). And Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable sculptures are good also – the captions say “subversive” (the pink one is based on a Daddy’s Sauce Bottle label) but of course this word is a Classic of Nonsense Artspeak, wheeled out when commentators who Hate Giant Inflatable Fun seek to squelch it, especially in a Museum OH NO!

Anyway, there are plenty of other Jolly Famous Nose-tweakings on hand (Duchamp’s Urinal blah blah), all carefully decommissioned and placed back in the box by their context or their neighbours or whatever: the surprise is leadenly anticipated, the joke is pedantically explained, the novelty long ago became a broadsheet/rockpress/tabloid clich’. But toodle along to the Design Museum, where such Grandly Modernist Hah-Gotcha! Pretensions are set aside in the name of practicality, fashion sense and undeluded salesman instinct, and – for all that so much pretty-looking, clever stuff presents itself – it can quickly feel like (comment ‘Daddino) sightseeing in Ikea, everything SO beseeching and needy (“Like MEEEE! Buy MEEEE!”) etc etc.

Inadvertently, our route took us past David Blaine, on his penultimate day. Being there was fairly wearing (cold, press of the vulgar crowd, nothing “happening”), so we hurried on – but on strict ‘pater grounds, you can’t really fault this stunt. And its sheer intent/content blankness seems to have allowed us all to project our pet peeves (or perversities) onto it, like Big Brother or Arnie-as-Governor or whatever. My personal enjoyment scale is old-skool – Tate > Design M > Blaine – but other comparisons make me want to retool that chart a bit. Design Museum is smallish, slightly out-of-the-way, and pricey: the times I’ve been there’s never been many other punters in it. Tate and Blaine were rammed, and that’s good. If you look on the box art arrives in, it says (in wee letters) BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED: bcz the batteries are us. The routine energyflow of celebrity and of institutionalised art does bad things to Shock Art: if the information really travels just one way, then it’s not really much more contentful than trolling on interweb messageboards: “YES YES YOU DID IT TO GET A RESPONSE HAHA but where exactly is the mechanism for engaging w.that response, plz?” (ie what’s aggravating abt trolling is not so much the initial stimulus as the refusal to be affected in turn). But in a packed gallery, intimidation-towards-“correct”-response diminishes – *we* energise this stuff, we bring it (back) to life: and the more of us that metaphorically touch it back, the more power it contains. What happens next is the good bit, and – like a good ilx thread – that depends on ALL the contributors, not just the troll.