Dominoes are cousins to playing cards and have long been used for a variety of games that require not only skill, but also patience and perseverance. They are often arranged in a curved line with one domino on top of another, and as each domino is knocked over, the chain reaction spreads outward in ever-expanding circles.

Normally, each domino is marked with an arrangement of spots or pips on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The identification-bearing sides are called the “ends,” and in the most popular variant, each end has a value from six to zero (or blank).

Standing dominoes upright gives them potential energy, which is the amount of stored energy based on their position. When a domino is knocked over, much of that potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, or the energy of motion, and some of that energy is transferred to the next domino, which in turn provides the push needed to fall the next tile. And so on, until all the dominoes have fallen.

A domino is also used as a symbol for a chain of events, as in the saying “the domino effect.” This concept is illustrated by the example of an airplane flying into the ocean, which can cause waves that travel farther and faster than the plane, eventually breaking it apart. The same principle applies to political events. For example, an event in one country can have a ripple effect, leading to changes in policy in other countries.

Lily Hevesh has been creating mind-blowing domino setups for more than 20 years, since her grandparents gave her the classic 28-pack when she was 9. She creates a wide range of installations for movies, TV shows, and even events such as album launches for Katy Perry.

When she’s preparing to build an installation, Hevesh starts by considering the theme or purpose and brainstorming images that might go with it. Once she has a rough idea in place, she makes test versions of each section to see how the pieces work individually before putting them all together. The biggest 3-D sections go up first, followed by flat arrangements, and finally lines of dominoes connecting all the pieces together.

The word “domino” itself comes from the Latin dominium, meaning “little throne.” It originally denoted a garment worn by a priest over his surplice. It may have been influenced by French domino, which earlier denoted a long hooded cloak that was often worn with a mask.

The Art of Dominoes