Things to do

Even the most intricate domino constellations you lined up as a kid have nothin' on this project

In February more than 300 volunteers will band together to place giant dominoes – constructed out of 7000 lightweight concrete ‘breezeblocks’ – at regular and very carefully mapped out intervals over a two-kilometre course all over the CBD. Their path will snake through buildings, under and over bridges and across walls and thoroughfares, major and minor. For spectators, it’s party time while the blocks tumble, culminating with a bash at the Arts Centre, which will also televise the event.

Dominoes is the third event in the Betty Amsden Participation Program, a large-scale celebration of public art. The previous events were Play Me I’m Yours, which involved hundreds of pianos scattered across Melbourne for ivory tinkling, and Home, where 7000 tiny wooden houses were decorated to demonstrate a range of experiences related to the sense of home, place and belonging.

Dominoes unfolds under the direction of Station House Opera, a UK-based performance company. Julian Maynard Smith, the company’s artistic director, has acquitted similar projects from Marseilles to Copenhagen – and the community response is always resounding (check it out on Youtube).

“It has a childish appeal,” says Smith. “And the dominoes do play with the city – it’s a bit like children doing naughty things like climbing over walls or through windows. Those are the things you do as a kid, but as an adult all you do is walk up and down the pavement and behave. The dominoes don’t do the well-behaved things – they fall off buildings and cross streets they’re not meant to. They cause a bit of mayhem and interrupt the normal activity of the city. It makes the city stop and have a look for a moment.”


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