How Domino Tiles Are Used in Art Installations

Domino, or dominoes, are small rectangular blocks used in a variety of games as gaming pieces. A domino is a flat, rectangular piece of wood or another rigid material, and it has a pattern of dots or pips on one side. Its other side is blank or identically patterned. Dominos have been known for centuries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Some early dominoes were made of bone or ivory, but the most common today are plastic. The word is derived from the Latin dominum, meaning “supreme” or “first.”

The most popular game of all uses a set of dominoes arranged in a line, with each player taking a turn by placing a domino adjacent to an existing tile. Depending on the rules of the game, each domino must match the other tiles on either end, or it may form some other specified total. A player may also play a domino to an open end of the chain, in which case that open end becomes attached to another tile.

A domino’s shape, size, and surface texture affect how it falls and where other dominoes land when they topple. For example, a domino with smooth surfaces tends to fall farther than a domino with rough or textured surface. In addition, the shape of a domino’s face may affect its stability and how it connects to other dominoes.

When Hevesh begins planning an installation, she considers the theme and purpose of it. She then brainstorms images or words that might relate to that theme, and she looks at photos of other installations for inspiration. She also calculates how many dominoes she’ll need and determines the layout of the track.

While some people enjoy playing domino, others use the tiles as a form of art. Domino artists create curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and 3D structures like towers and pyramids. They can be simple or elaborate — for instance, Hevesh has created a three-story-tall dragon and a giant hand.

Most commercially available domino sets contain between 28 and 55 tiles. A larger set is available for players who prefer a longer domino game. Each domino in a set has a number on each end. Most of these numbers belong to a suit, such as the suit of sixes or the suit of nines. Some tiles, such as a 6-6, belong to both suits and are classified as doubles.

Identifying the numbers on each domino is easy, but a longer domino set can become more difficult to read. As a result, some large domino sets feature more readable Arabic numerals, rather than the traditional pips, on their surface. This makes the numbers easier to recognize and reduces confusion among players.