How Dominoes Are Used in Art Installations

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with one or more faces bearing numbers in the form of dots or other symbols (often resembling dice). It may also be blank. Each domino is usually twice as long as it is wide. Its ends are either identical or marked with a value (usually one to six pips) and the sum of the values on each end determines its rank or weight; it is heavier than a piece that has fewer or no pips.

The word comes from the Latin domino, meaning “flip.” A domino is an object that can be flipped over and causes other objects to fall over. Dominoes are used in games and to build structures. In a game, players place dominoes in a line on a flat surface and then knock over the first domino to start a chain reaction. As more dominoes are flipped over, they create a pyramid of shapes or an elaborate structure. The first player to reach the end of the line wins.

Hevesh, who has been creating domino installations since she was eight, follows a version of the engineering-design process when she makes her mind-blowing setups. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of an installation and brainstorming images or words that might be related to it. From there, she works out how to accomplish the desired result using a series of steps.

For example, when Hevesh sets out to create a domino cascade that is part of an art installation, she makes test versions of each section to make sure they work. She will then film the tests in slow motion to make precise corrections if needed. Once each section is perfect, she begins to connect them together with lines of dominoes.

As the domino cascade progresses, the energy of each domino in turn converts from potential to kinetic energy (the energy of motion). This energy is transferred to the next domino, providing the push it needs to tip over. And so on, until all the dominoes have fallen.

Similarly, when a domino is flipped over in the brain, it releases a pulse that travels through nerve cells and triggers other neurons to fire. This triggers an avalanche of chemical reactions that lead to the formation of new proteins and other chemical signals in the cell.

The domino effect is when a single event has a large impact on other events, like a person’s behavior or an economic crisis. The impact can be both positive and negative, depending on how the situation is viewed and how the subsequent changes are managed. Regardless of its origin, the domino effect is an important concept to understand when designing a system or planning an event.