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Tyson was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, in 1969. He completed a BA in Alternative Practice at the University of Brighton in 1993. Tyson moves between the scientific, the philosophical and the fantastical in his quest to explore the perplexing questions underpinning human existence. His studio wall drawings operate as his sketchbook and are the origin of his many lines of enquiry, which occasionally culminate in extraordinary objects and machines.
During the 1990s, Tyson’s practice was dominated by the ’Artmachine’, which was the first means through which Tyson explored his ongoing interest in randomness, causality, and the question of how things come into being. The ’Artmachine’ was a method Tyson developed which used a combination of computer programmes, flow charts and books in order to generate chance combinations of words and ideas, which were then realised in practice as artworks in a wide range of media. The results of the Artmachine became the basis of Tyson’s earliest exhibited artworks; indeed, his first solo exhibition in 1996 at Anthony Reynolds Gallery in London was entitled From the Artmachine.
From 1999, Tyson’s interests practice turned from the Artmachine towards an artistic approach which explored the same thematic terrain, but this time directly by his own hand. The first such body of work was entitled Drawing and Thinking. Many of these works were installed in the 2001 Venice Biennale, and contributed substantially to Tyson’s winning the Turner Prize the following year.
In 2002, Tyson mounted what might be considered his breakthrough solo museum show, Supercollider at South London Gallery and then the Kunsthalle Zürich in Switzerland. The name of the exhibition, derived from the popular name for the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, indicated the significance of scientific ways of seeing and thinking about the world to Tyson’s art at this time.
In December 2002, Tyson was awarded the UK’s leading visual arts award, the Turner Prize. The other shortlisted artists that year were Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick and Catherine Yass.
Tyson’s first exhibition in the UK after winning the Turner Prize was Geno/Pheno Paintings in London’s Haunch of Venison Gallery in 2004. The title and concept of the series of diptychs which constitute this body of work were borrowed from biological science; each pair of artworks featured a genotype work (a generative system, formula or situation), and a phenotype (one possible expression, manifestation or consequence of the genotype). That same year in Galerie Judin in Zürich, Tyson mounted an exhibition of The Terrible Weight of History, which featured The History Paintings, which is one of the clearest and most minimal artistic expressions of Tyson’s interest in unpredictability and its representation, and his questioning of how works of art are originated.
In 2005, Tyson was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Brighton. The following year, Tyson first exhibited his most monumental and ambitious work to date, Large Field Array, in the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art in Denmark, which then travelled to the De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in the Netherlands and PaceWildenstein in New York.
His most recent exhibition in London was in December 2007, when Tyson showed at Haunch of Venison Ten Years of Studio Paintings, 1997 - 2007. Tyson has referred to these drawings as: „ kind of journal…like Van Gogh’s letters”. The drawings Tyson created on his studio wall collectively act like a kind of sketchbook for the paintings and the larger multimedia installations that have characterized Tyson’s later career. In 2009 Tyson's work was shown at the Hayward Gallery as part of the group exhibition "Walking in My Mind". This is to be followed by a solo exhibition at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, entitled "Cloud Choreography and Other Emergent Systems", opening in mid September. Set up as an exploration of Tyson’s practice, rather than as a mid-career survey, the exhibition will focus on the systems and processes that inform the creation of his work.
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