The cut up technique was invented to produce aleatory text by (physically) cutting up phrases from several source texts and then rearranging those pieces to form something new.

The technique, attributed to dadaists, was one of many ways in which the rational was mocked and the irrational, the random and the nonsensical works were glorified as a way of reaching into the unconscious, which was relatively unknown territory in arts.

These days, the internet gives the layperson access to mountains of source texts and tools to easily replicate this technique. Thus, I argue, the potential artist can concentrate more on the resulting piece and less on its process. Example cut-up headlines by yours truly:

  • Crisis in Egypt raising fears oil prices could spike if it leads to a supply disruption. || It's mostly a showcase for Windows 8.1, but it's also an opportunity for Redmond to turn the page on a new era.
  • Researchers believe artificial lighting at night interferes with chemicals in the body, and this process can trigger the growth of tumors. || Notable exhibitions in Denver, London and Brunswick, Maine.
  • Planet Labs, a San Francisco aerospace startup, is launching 100 of its small satellites into orbit this year where they will photograph the Earth every single day. || Kate Winslet says she wishes she had been given more support to help her cope
  • President Obama's proclamation for 'Religious Freedom Day' recognizes atheists and agnostics. || If we’re not careful, the future could resemble the scarier parts of Minority Report, where roving droids scan our irises and force non-stop customized ads upon us

Source of the cut up headlines: (now defunct link) and others. Want to try it for yourself?

BQ14: 283 words

2022-02-23: Marked one link as defunct, added two new links