The Art of Domino Installations


Domino is a game played with small rectangular blocks of wood or other material, each marked on one side with an arrangement of dots (called “pips”) and blank or identically patterned on the other. Like playing cards and dice, dominoes are generic gaming devices that can be used for a wide variety of games.

Dominoes are often arranged in long, straight or curved lines. When one domino in the line is knocked over, it sets off a chain reaction that continues until all the tiles have fallen. This chain reaction is what makes dominoes so entertaining to watch.

Lily Hevesh started collecting dominoes when she was 9 years old and soon became obsessed with creating mind-blowing domino installations. Her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, now has more than 2 million subscribers. Hevesh works with teams to create domino setups for movies, TV shows and events, including a recent album launch by pop star Katy Perry.

She follows a version of the engineering-design process to design each section of a domino installation. She starts by considering a theme or purpose, then brainstorms images and words that might relate to it. She tests each part of the installation to ensure that it functions correctly, and she films each test in slow motion so that she can make precise adjustments.

When she’s satisfied that a particular portion of an installation works, Hevesh moves on to the next step. Typically, the largest 3-D sections go up first, followed by flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect them all together. She sometimes spends hours preparing the final pieces, which can take several nail-biting minutes to fall in accordance with the laws of physics.

As a chain reaction of dominoes tumbles, it has a similar effect to the pulse that occurs when a nerve cell fires. The energy from a falling domino is transmitted to the next domino, which then transmits that energy to other nerve cells down its axon. This energy transfer is what causes the body to move in the way that it does, regardless of the size of the triggering signal.

There are many different ways to play domino, but the basic rule is that when a player can’t place a new tile, they must pass their turn. This rule prevents players from “cheating” by intentionally stalling the game, which can lead to a very competitive and frustrating experience for everyone involved.