Domino – A Game of Chain Reactions

Domino, a game in which pieces are arranged side to side or end to end in long lines to create complex patterns, then tipped over to cause them to fall. The resulting pattern can be anything from a line of straight dominoes to curved lines or grids that form pictures. Some people also use the tiles to create 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Many games can be played with a single set of dominoes, although special sets with different colors and shapes may be used for specific games or to play with more elaborate rules.

Traditionally, dominoes have been made of bone or ivory, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. Other materials have been used as well, including stone (e.g., marble or granite); soapstone; other hardwoods such as birch or beech; metals like brass or pewter; ceramic clay; and even frosted glass. Some modern sets use polymer material to make the tiles.

The word domino derives from the Latin dominus, meaning master of the house. It was adapted by the English to mean a schoolmaster, and later became an adjective meaning a person who controls or oversees a situation. The word was also adopted in Chinese, where it came to mean something like a statesman or someone who takes charge of a matter.

As a metaphor, domino refers to a chain reaction that starts with one event and ultimately leads to much greater—and sometimes disastrous—consequences. The idea of a domino effect is often used in discussions of international politics, such as the 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews in which Richard Nixon defended his destabilization of the Salvador Allende regime in Chile on the grounds that it would lead to a communist Cuba and a Red Sandwich that could entrap Central America between them. The concept was also popularized in the 1980s when McGeorge Bundy, a top official in the Reagan administration, promoted the containment strategy that would keep Communist China and the Soviet Union separated by keeping the United States in control of Central America and the Caribbean.

Dominoes are also used to write scenes in stories or novels, either as an example of how a series of events can lead to larger problems or as a tool for writers who don’t plot their books ahead of time. If a writer writes without an outline or a program such as Scrivener to help him plan out his story, the result may be scenes that don’t seem to fit together. In the domino image, these might be scenes that are at an incorrect angle or have no logical impact on those preceding them.

When Hevesh makes a new installation, she begins by making test versions of each part and filming them in slow motion to get a better understanding of how they work. Then she assembles them, starting with the largest 3-D sections. She then adds flat arrangements and finally, the lines of dominoes that connect all the parts.