In the 1950s the painter and writer Brion Gysin started to cut newspaper articles into sections and rearranged the sections at random. "Minutes to Go" resulted from this initial cut-up experiment: unedited and unchanged cut-ups which emerge as coherent and meaningful prose. Gysin introduced the writer William S. Burroughs to the concept; the pair later applied the technique to printed media and audio recordings alike in an effort to decode the material's implicit content, hypothesizing that such a technique could be used to discover the true meaning of a given 'text.' Burroughs also suggested cut-ups may be effective as a form of divination.
The form has since been appropriated, consciously or not, by musicians working in sample-based genres such as Hip Hop and Electronic Music; DJs especially value "digging," or spending hours in record stores looking for lp records featuring obscure breaks, vocals, and samples to meld together in new compositions. The pop-artist David Bowie is also an adherent of the cut-up method in the construction of many of his lyrics.
Dada Dodo is software that does cut-up theory on sample text given to it.