Enrico David, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright are the other artists in the running for the Turner Prize 2009, in what one jury member described as a “classic” year.
Hiorns, who is interested in the problems of modernist social architecture, created the work Seizure last year.
Over the course of the year, Hiorns sealed a disused south London bedsit and filled it with 90,000 litres of liquid copper sulphate, which after a time encrusted each surface of the apartment with crystals.
The Turner Prize has traditionally been won for controversial work.
Previous recipients include Gilbert and George, Damien Hirst and transvestite potter Grayson Perry.
Judge Jonathan Jones, art critic for The Guardian, said: “I think it’s going to be a classic Turner Prize, to remind people why it’s such a great prize, and remind people why British art is so exciting.”
Jones said the prize had previously been accused of rewarding something other than talent.
He said of the 2009 shortlist: “It shows there is a great deal of talent in contemporary art.”
He said that the artists were fulfilling creative urges not dissimilar to those thousands of years ago.
He said: “Creativity is the same as it’s always been.”
This year’s shortlist also sees a wide age range — Hiorns and Skaer are both 34, David is 43 and Wright is at the upper age limit for the prize at 49.
The accolade, in its 25th year, is awarded to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of their work in the 12 preceding months.
Wright lives and works in Glasgow and graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 1982.
Skaer graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1997 and also lives and works in Glasgow.
Italian-born David and Hiorns, originally from Birmingham, are both based in London.
This year’s exhibition of works by the shortlisted artists will open on October 7. The jury panel this year also includes Mariella Frostrup, Charles Esche and Andrea Schlieker.