How Domino Games Can Create Mind-Blowing Works of Art

Domino, also known as dominoes, is a game in which players place small rectangular blocks on end to form long lines. When a domino in a line is tipped over, it triggers the rest of the lines to tip over as well. This is how dominoes are able to create some pretty impressive patterns. And it’s how the game has inspired the popular phrase “domino effect,” which describes a series of events that start with a single action and lead to much larger–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences.

The most basic domino games require a double-six set of 28 tiles, shuffled and stacked face down to make the stock or boneyard. Each player draws a random number of tiles from this stock until they have seven dominoes in their hand. The player who draws the highest domino plays first, and each subsequent player follows suit, playing whichever tile has the lowest value on its face.

Each domino has an identifying mark, called a pip, on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips help identify each domino by its value, with the number of pips on a particular piece reflecting its rank or weight. The number of pips on each domino also makes it easy to match two dominoes, which are then played together.

There are a wide variety of domino games that can be played with a standard domino set. Some involve blocking or scoring, while others allow for more complex play involving matching tiles. For example, a game called Five-Up uses multicolored dominoes and is an adaptation of card games that were once played to circumvent religious proscriptions against the use of cards.

Dominoes are often used to create works of art that display their beauty as they fall. Artists have used dominoes to create straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when the pieces are arranged correctly, and 3-D structures like towers and pyramids. Some artists even use the pieces to create kinetic sculptures that move as they’re built and are displayed.

When Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. She begins by considering the theme or purpose of an installation and brainstorms images or words that might be associated with it. She then tests each individual section of the track by placing it on a table and running it through a slow-motion camera to ensure that it works properly. Only after the track has been tested does she begin putting it together, starting with the biggest 3-D sections before working her way down to smaller flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect them all.

Like any good plot, a domino story starts with a simple question: what happens next? Whether you compose your novel off the cuff or carefully plan it out using an outline, understanding how to use the domino effect will help you craft a narrative that keeps readers engaged.