Patterson is an iconoclast whose early work included Paper Piece (1960), during which quantities of paper were relocated from the stage into the audience in a grand interaction and nonpreconceived activity. Patterson frequented avant-garde circles and was an integral member of the earliest Fluxus activities in Europe, where he performed with Cage. In 1962 he wrote in the introduction to the revised version of his 1961 score Variations for Double-Bass:
"Pitches, dynamics, durations and number of sounds to be produced in any one variation in this composition are not notated. (in the first performance by the composer a graphic score derived from ink blots was used as a guide; however, there are many other satisfactory solutions.)"
Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.