The Art of Domino


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, with one face marked with an arrangement of dots or pips like those on dice. The other face is blank or unmarked. Dominoes may be stacked to form vertical, curved, or 3D structures. They are also used to play a variety of games.

Dominoes are often played by two or more players, but they can also be used in a one-on-one game. In most cases, each player draws a certain number of tiles for his hand according to the rules of the particular game. Then he places these tiles in front of him, so the other players can’t see their pips. Depending on the rules, he either plays the first tile in his hand or passes. If he plays the first tile, he sets off a chain reaction in which each player must play a domino that makes a “next” move.

Hevesh started playing with dominoes when she was 9. Her grandparents had a classic 28-pack, and she loved setting them up in straight or curved lines, flicking the first one, and watching the entire line fall. By age 14, she was making videos of her domino creations online, and at 20, she is now a professional domino artist who creates stunning setups for events and movies.

To make an installation work, Hevesh tests each part of it. She starts with flat arrangements, then moves on to 3-D sections. She films each test run in slow motion so she can get precise feedback and fix anything that doesn’t work. Even when she knows a piece is going to work, there’s always the chance that something unexpected will happen—or a domino might just slide past its tipping point.

Once a domino falls, it releases an energy pulse that travels down the line like a firing neuron. It doesn’t matter if the next domino is a double or a single, it has to match the count of the last tile in the line. And the speed at which the dominoes travel is independent of the size of the triggering domino.

In addition to being fun and educational, domino is a great way to develop the fine motor skills of children. It can also help kids learn about physics and math. In fact, many schools now use domino as a learning tool.

Although domino is usually associated with the game of chinese checkers, it was invented in the late 14th century in China. Early dominoes were functionally identical to playing cards, but they were made of a more durable material and could be wiped clean between uses. This allowed them to be transported more easily, and they quickly became popular in Europe. They were widely adopted as a cheap alternative to the expensive ivory chess pieces, which were considered symbols of power and authority.