Cage started to address the perception of emptiness and at the same time the random quality of what happens in a prescribed space as early as 1952 in his piece 4:33, which consisted entirely of silence. Forty years later he said: "Of course the film will be about the effect of light in an empty space. But no space is actually empty and the light will show what is in it. And all this space and all this light will be controlled by random operations."
This simple concept was implemented professionally and with a great deal of technical input in a Munich television studio under the direction of Henning Lohner.
The film One11 and the musical piece ("soundtrack") 103 are of the same duration and run in parallel, without relating directly to each other, but each has 17 parts. Each of the parts is based on approx. 1200 random operations devised by a computer and determining how the lighting is controlled and the movements of a crane-mounted camera.
The result, aided by the distinguished cameraman Van Theodore Carlson, is a film entirely without plot or actors, which Cage hopes will enable viewers to find themselves.
Two distinct soundtracks are offered of 103 for large orchestra to accompany the film: one taken from the premiere of the piece by the prestigious WDR Symphony Orchestra of the German Radio in Cologne, the other by the Spoleto Festival Orchestra.