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How an Artist Sets Up a Dominoes Installation

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Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks of wood or plastic marked with an arrangement of dots called pips, similar to those on a die. They are used to play a variety of games in which dominoes are lined up and then knocked over. Many people use them to create artistic creations like arcs of light, geometric shapes, or 3D structures. Dominoes are also a popular toy for children who enjoy knocking down rows of the brick-like pieces.

When someone sets up a domino installation, it is similar to how an engineer might design a bridge or skyscraper. A domino installation begins with a concept or theme—such as a shape or picture—that the artist wants to create. Next, the artist brainstorms images that might help convey the idea or concept. For example, if the artist is making an image of the sun, she might sketch or paint pictures of the different stages of the eclipse to help her determine how long a line of dominoes will need to be to depict the entire event.

Then the artist starts laying out the pieces of a domino installation on a flat surface. She makes sure that the pieces are properly matched up with one another so that the finished product will work as intended. After the piece is positioned, the artist uses tape or glue to secure the domino to its starting point. Finally, the artist adds other dominoes that will connect the pieces of the installation together.

While some installations are made in a single room, most are created outside. Hevesh, who has set up more than 100 dominoes outdoors, describes her method as a kind of “engineering-design process.” She creates a prototype, or prototypes, for each section of an installation. Then she tests the components of each to make sure that they will work correctly. She films the test, which enables her to see details that aren’t visible when looking at the finished product.

Hevesh’s design process is important because dominoes aren’t always placed in the same way. For example, the length of a domino depends on whether it is a double or a single and how it is played: doubles are always played crosswise (end to end), while singles are played lengthwise. In some games, a domino must be a double or a spinner to count as part of the line of play.

In addition, a domino’s pips might indicate that it should be played with another specific tile in the game. For example, a treble must be played on the ace of spades or the two sixes. Other rules may also apply, such as seating arrangements in a game with multiple players. For example, the player with the highest number of pips seats himself or herself first. In the case of a tie, new hands are drawn from the stock until the winner is determined.

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