Well the first time I saw [Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés], he had made an experiment of taking it from 14th Street where he made it. Do you know the story of his two studios? He had two studios. One was the one he was working in and the other was the one where he had stopped working. So that if anyone came to visit him they went into the studio where he wasn’t working, and there everything was covered with dust. So, the idea was spread around that he was no longer working. And you had proof of it!—dust collected where he worked. (laughs) After he died, Teeny took me to 11th Street, where I now go to get my chiropractic treatment and my acupuncture—the same building. He rented a space to put up Étant donnés. In other words he was taking it down and putting it up in order that when he died someone else would be able to do that too, and he made a book which is called Approximation démontable. And that turns it, as far as I’m concerned, since it’s a prescription for action, turns it into a piece of music. Because in music all we do is give directions for the production of sound; and if you follow the directions of how to take Étant donnés apart and put it back together, you will of course produce sounds, and they will be music, hmm? How can they not be?
— John Cage in conversation with Joan Retallack, October 22, 1991, MUSICAGE: Cage Muses on Words, Art Music, reprinted in DANCING AROUND THE BRIDE: CAGE, CUNNINGHAM, JOHNS, RAUSCHENBERG, AND DUCHAMP