Keith Tyson

The mythology of Western art is full of stories about the “secrets” of the old masters—the special recipes, techniques, tools, and machines that incredulous viewers assume must account for the production of the great masterpieces. Today the cultivation of weird recipes seems to have become an end in itself—which may explain the proliferation of unconventional media and methods. No wonder the viewer of contemporary art so often feels like an initiate who is being let in on a secret.

Keith Tyson (b. 1969) both celebrates and parodies this state of affairs. He says his prolific output of mixed-media work is generated by an “Artmachine”—supposedly a complex network of computer programs, flow charts, and books that produce proposals for works of art. Tyson keeps the precise nature of the Artmachine under wraps so that no one knows what it is exactly.

Judging by Tyson’s work, the Artmachine

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