It was Antony Gormley who came up with the most fun proposal. He wants the plinth to be empty except for volunteers who will stand on it for an hour at a time, 24 hours a day. Over the year he estimates 8,760 people would take part.
He said Trafalgar Square was an "outdated, valedictory, monumental kind of military space and it should be a civilian space. How responsible we are on the plinth is up to us. People can get drunk up there if they want, it's entirely up to them. The rule is you can take up whatever you want, whatever you can carry."
The most overtly political statement comes from Jeremy Deller, who is proposing a burnt-out car that has been destroyed in an attack on civilians in Iraq - the idea being that from the Romans onwards the spoils of war have been presented to a curious public.
He said: "I've gone for something which is deliberately ugly and jarring."
The most bullish of the artists present was Bob & Roberta Smith (a pseudonym for Patrick Brill), behind what would be the most eye-catching piece. He is proposing a 100ft tall illuminated peace sign (Faites L'Art, pas La Guerre or Make Art, Not War) which would be powered by the sun and wind. "Mine is the best proposal, it's as simple as that. All the advice I've had is that it will work."
Anish Kapoor's Sky Plinth would have five large concave mirrors attached to the plinth facing upwards reflecting the clouds as they pass. Kapoor said: "For some time I've been preoccupied with the idea of bringing the sky down to the ground, turning the world upside down. The mirrors all catch the sky. It should be really beautiful."
Yinka Shonibare is proposing a piece called Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, which would be a scale replica of HMS Victory, in a bottle, and address issues of multiculturalism. "It's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK."
Tracey Emin's proposal is titled Something for the Future, and consists of a sculpture of four meerkats "as a symbol of unity and safety". Emin was the only artist not present at the launch yesterday but her publicity material said she had noticed that "whenever Britain is in crisis or, as a nation, is experiencing sadness and loss (for example, after Princess Diana's funeral), the next programme on television is Meerkats United".So, a nice mix of leftist propaganda, vacuous pretension, and utter lunacy, with a complete absence of anything requiring the slightest modicum of originality or artistic ability. In other words, just what one would expect from the world of the modern "arts".
You can see representations of what these "artworks" will look like at the Fourth Plinth website, here. Difficult as it may be to believe, these pieces actually look even worse than they sound. They'd be better off leaving the plinth vacant.
Mind you, a member of the public interviewed on London Tonight yesterday seemed to be on to something. Stick a pillory up there (there always used to be a pillory at Charing Cross), and put a politician in it. Or, indeed, Anthony Gormley, or any of the other talentless charlatans listed above.