How to Design a Domino Installation


Domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic that contains a line in the middle and a number of spots or “pips” on each end, generally ranging from six pips (values) down to none or blank. A domino has a thickness that is nearly twice as long as it is wide, which makes it easy to stack the pieces together and re-stack them after use. The sum of the pips on either side, which is called the rank, is used to determine the value of a tile and the order in which it must be placed. The smallest possible set of dominoes contains 28 unique tiles, but more advanced sets have extensions that increase the total number of unique ends to more than double-six.

A domino may be played in any of a large variety of games, some involving blocking or scoring and others in which the players compete to lay the most tiles to form a chain that goes all the way across the table. The first player begins by drawing his or her own dominoes from a pile, which is arranged so that each end matches with the other two adjacent ones; matching sides are called doubles. The starting player then places the first tile on the table, usually a double. This initiates a sequence of dominoes that will continue to fall in a predictable pattern until it is stopped or the players are out of tiles.

Hevesh, who has created domino installations ranging in size from 300,000 to 76,017, says that the key ingredient in any great setup is one physical phenomenon: gravity. When a domino is knocked over, it converts some of its potential energy into kinetic energy that pushes the next domino down, and so on, in a chain reaction that can take several nail-biting minutes to complete.

For Hevesh, who has worked on team projects that have set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement, designing a new project involves thinking about the theme and purpose of the installation, brainstorming images or words that might be associated with it, and then carefully planning out each individual piece before starting the assembly. The actual building process can be painstaking, as the dominoes must be precisely positioned before the first domino can fall.

Although domino is commonly associated with a game, the word had earlier denoted a hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. During this time, domino also referred to a cape worn by a priest over the top of his or her white surplice. The word was adopted into English from French around 1750. The name Domino has since been extended to various products and companies that make the small tiles, including an Internet service for managing large-scale cloud computing infrastructure. Domino’s unified data science platform accelerates the full lifecycle of AI for hybrid multicloud environments. It provides data ingest, integration and management and increases collaboration and security.