Frivolous Friday: Hevesh 5 and the Joy of Tipping Dominoes

Lily Hevesh's Dominos

I’ve grown weirdly fascinated with the YouTube channel of a young woman named Lily Hevesh — also known by the handle Hevesh5 — lately. I’m not the only one; she’s been building up notoriety as an expert domino tumbler. If you’ve heard of her at all, you’ve almost certainly seen her “Triple Spiral” video, which went viral last month. The video shows an amazing construction of 15,000 multicolored dominoes, which Hevesh built over 25 hours. It takes less than two and a half minutes for it to collapse.

It’s a strangely beautiful thing to watch Hevesh’s domino machines self-destruct. Only by watching them fall can you really appreciate how intricate they are and how much work went into their construction. When you just look at it standing there, the spiral seems like nothing more than a carefully laid-out mosaic of colored tiles. It’s only when the dominoes crash into each other that you can appreciate the design. The Triple Spiral is more than three spirals nested within each other; there are small patterns laid out within the larger machine designed to reverse the flow of the collapsing dominoes, or to fork a single row of falling dominoes into several.

I find a strange kind of tranquility in watching one of Hevesh’s machines fall. I get drawn in by the combination of the rhythmic sound of tiles clacking against each other, the shifting visual patterns, and the irresistible urge to imagine the internal mechanics causing it all. In addition, I just have incredible admiration for Hevesh’s craft and patience. Here’s another one of her designs, this one a race between five intertwined paths of dominos. Which one do you think will finish first?

Although Hevesh only recently caught the mass eyeballs of the internet, she’s been doing this for years. She started tumbling dominoes when she was ten, and at seventeen, she’s been able to go pro as a domino artist. She was even contracted as a consultant for a forthcoming movie with Will Smith. As she says in the below interview with the BBC, her job was basically to make it look like Smith could do the things that she does with dominoes.

Nowadays, it’s really easy to feel like YouTube is nothing but a desolate wasteland. My recommended videos section keeps filling up with misogynist, racist blather by people like the so-called Amazing Atheist or the Armored Skeptic.  Some days, it just seems like YouTube exists to put the very worst of humanity on display, so Hevesh5’s YouTube channel comes as a huge relief. More of this please, and less alt-right bullshit.

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Frivolous Friday: Hevesh 5 and the Joy of Tipping Dominoes

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