The Domino Effect

A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block, typically 28 in number, with an arrangement of spots resembling those on dice on one face and blank or identically patterned on the other. When stacked on end in long lines, dominoes can be tipped over one at a time, causing the next tile to tip over and so on until the entire line falls over. This chain reaction is also known as the Domino Effect.

The term Domino may be used to refer to any of several games played with the pieces, or to the piece itself. In the Western world, dominoes are most commonly used for positional games where players place a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that either the two adjacent faces are identical or form some specified total (e.g., five to three). The first player to play such a tile begins the domino chain and each subsequent player adds to it by playing a domino with an end that matches to any part of the previous domino or a nearby domino.

In many domino games, the value of a domino is indicated by the number of pips on its exposed ends, with doubles counting as two and blanks counting as zero. In most games, the number of pips on a domino is only visible to the player who plays it. The player who scores the most points over a given number of rounds wins the game.

While it is possible to create complex designs by stacking dominoes in a variety of configurations, the most common and most familiar use of the pieces is in long lines that can be tipped over one at

a time. A domino’s upright position gives it potential energy based on its location and orientation, but when tipped over, much of this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy through friction. The energy of motion of each domino, in turn, triggers the kinetic energy of other dominoes, and so on.

Dominoes can be made to tilt in a variety of ways, including by using a finger or object to push on them, but the most reliable method is to simply tap them with your hand. This allows for precise control, as well as the ability to create specific effects such as a domino that is tipped over at an angle, or a domino that is tipped up and then down again.

When Hevesh makes a domino installation, she often tests it out by putting one piece up and then nudging it over with her hand. This ensures that the entire installation works before she starts laying it out on the floor. She also films each test version of an installation to be able to make precise adjustments when necessary. Just like when writing a novel, this precision is crucial for creating a compelling story. Each plot beat is a domino that, when tipped over, can trigger an entire cascade of events.