Gil J. Wolman developed cut-up techniques as part of his lettrist practice. Also in the 1950s painter and writer Brion Gysin more fully developed the cut-up method after accidentally discovering it. He had placed layers of newspapers as a mat to protect a tabletop from being scratched while he cut papers with a razor blade. Upon cutting through the newspapers, Gysin noticed that the sliced layers offered interesting juxtapositions. He began deliberately cutting newspaper articles into sections, which he randomly rearranged. Minutes to Go resulted from his initial cut-up experiment: unedited and unchanged cut-ups which emerged as coherent and meaningful prose. South African poet Sinclair Beiles also used this technique and co-authored Minutes To Go. Argentine writer Julio Cortazar often used this technique in his book Hopscotch.
Gysin introduced writer William S. Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. The pair later applied the technique to printed media and audio recordings 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 saying, "When you cut into the present the future leaks out." Burroughs also further developed the "fold-in" technique.
Burroughs has cited earlier works as proto-cut-ups: T. S. Eliot's long poem, The Waste Land, and portions of John Dos Passos' works. In 1977, Burroughs and Gysin published The Third Mind, a collection of cut-up writings and essays on the form.
Other musicians working in sample-based music genres, such as hip hop and electronic music, employ a similar technique. DJs may spend hours in record stores looking ("digging") for LP records featuring obscure or interesting breaks, vocals, and other fragments to meld together in new compositions. Musique concrète had introduced such techniques — cutting, re-arranging and re-editing sounds — much earlier in a musical (as opposed to literary) context.
Jeff Noon uses a similar remixing technique in his writing based on the practices prevalent in Dub music. He expanded upon his remixing with his Cobralingus system, which breaks down a piece of writing, going as far as turning individual words into anagrams, then melding the results into a narrative.
And to return to Tzara's Dadaist example, Thom Yorke applied a similar method in Radiohead's Kid A (2000) album, writing single lines, putting them into a hat, and drawing them out at random while the band rehearsed the songs.
An online subculture of bastard pop resembles the fold-in technique by for example taking instrumentals from one artist and combining it with the vocals of another artist.
Burroughs taught cut-up technique to Genesis P-Orridge in 1971 as a method for "altering reality". Burroughs' explanation was that everything is recorded, and if it is recorded, then it can be edited (P-Orridge, 2003). P-Orridge has long employed cut-ups as an applied philosophy, a way of creating art and music, and of conducting one's life.
American band Interpol uses a similar technique in their video for the song The Heinrich Maneuver. In the video you see a woman who walks in slow-motion until she is hit by a bus and around her you see a handful of people who watches as it happens but in different time zones. A good example of this is a man running from behind trying to warn the woman then stopping once he sees that she's hit and all the while the woman on the picture is only half-ways.
Even grammatically consistent sentences can be formed, such as
Such text is called spamoetry (spam poetry) or spam art. Since the text is often derived from actual books, this is effectively a cut-up method.
A class of programs called "travesty generators" exist to perform similar cut-up techniques on user-supplied text. Many such programs exist as web-based applications (see External Links).
In the graphic novel Watchmen, Ozymandias watches rows upon rows of televisions, each set to a different channel, to "[allow] subliminal hints of the future to leak through."