The Art of Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular block, usually wood or plastic, with one face bearing an arrangement of dots or marks resembling those on dice. The other face is blank or marked with a single number. Dominoes are used for playing a variety of games, including the classic blocking game, in which the player tries to get a line of dominoes to end up with a particular number or total. Dominoes can also be arranged to form three-dimensional structures, such as towers and pyramids.

The word domino is derived from the Latin dominus, meaning “lord” or “master.” A domino is one who has an eye for advantageous opportunities and takes them as they come. Despite the negative connotation of the word, a domino can be a positive character who is aware that everything that happens in life is connected to something else and who looks at situations with compassion and understanding.

Dominoes are cousins to playing cards and, like them, offer a great variety of games that test skills of strategy, endurance, and patience. The earliest dominoes, which were functionally identical to playing cards, developed in China in the 1300s. Later European dominoes came to incorporate markings on the face that resembled the results of throwing a six-sided die.

In positional games, each domino is played so that its matching end touches a tile on the other side of the table. This starts a chain that gradually increases in length. A player may only play a tile to a domino that has the same number showing on its opposite end. If a player plays a tile to a domino that shows a different number, the chains at both ends of the table are “stitched up” and the opponent is said to have won the game.

Hevesh creates dominoes in many shapes and sizes. Her work often involves the use of computer programs to design tracks and determine how long each domino will be. To ensure the stability of her constructions, she makes test versions and films them in slow motion. She then works to correct problems before putting together the entire track.

Shevesh’s inspiration for domino art comes from her childhood when she and her siblings would create structures out of building blocks or cardboard boxes. She is fascinated by the way a domino’s movement can affect an entire system. This is what she aims to capture in her art.

Dominoes are often arranged to make artistic structures such as curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or even 3-D towers and pyramids. But they can also be simply stacked to create walls and walkways. A domino art designer might plan her creations on a piece of paper first, with arrows indicating where she wants the pieces to go. This allows her to get a feel for the way the pieces will fall, and to make corrections when necessary. Creating domino art requires an incredible amount of patience and careful planning, but the results are spectacular.