Book published: Ebban An’ Flowan

Ebban an Flowan cover

Just launched! Ebban an’ flowan is the world’s first poetic primer on marine renewable energy. The book focuses on the Orkney islands, as the leading international test site for this nascent energy industry, and expands to reflect on its relationship with the Nordic countries across the sea.

Through both language and technology, the book explores how use is inflected with locality. A number of tide and wave energy devices are illustrated, some in dock, others in the sea, along with an anthology of their characterful names–mixing humour with invocations of classical myth and metamorphosis.

Ebban an’ flowan explores the technical and mythic vocabulary which is evolving alongside marine energy devices. The book offers a unique, creative perspective on this social and technical world by gathering together maritime dialect expressions from across the Norse languages, connecting the older lore of the sea with the new lore of ocean energy generation. An innovative range of poems, maxims, and dictionaries connect tide and wave engineers with the older wisdom of mariners, fisherfolk, and mythic selkies or tangies, to suggest how a language of marine energy may, in some imagined future, grow from words, lodged in collective memory.

Languages also have their tides: the energy of speech, as its sound rises and lulls, is always ebban an’ flowan.

The project is inspired by ongoing social research in collaboration with people and places around marine energy in Orkney, conducted as part of the Alien Energy project at the IT University of Copenhagen.

Alec Finlay and Laura Watts, with Alistair Peebles
pb, 56 pages, morning star, 2015; edition of 500 copies; ISBN: 978-1904477150

Price 10.00 GBP / 13.00 EUR

To obtain your copy please visit

Or visit Studio Alec Finlay’s bookshop at

Report on Invisible Work at EMEC


Old Academy, Stromness, site of the European Marine Energy Centre (image courtesy Sigurd Towrie)

The final report on fieldwork at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) last year, has just been released. This report brings together ideas on ‘care’ (from Puig de la Bellacasa) and ‘dialogic discourse’ (from Bakhtin) to consider to the sociotechnical ‘Invisible Work’ on going in this marine energy test site in Orkney, Scotland, and how this affects the marine energy industry more widely.

It was written by our Research Assistant, Rebecca Ford, who conducted the fieldwork (August-November 2014).

Download and read the Invisible Work at EMEC report.

Our thanks to everyone at EMEC who have so warmly supported this project, and given their time generously to help us with our insights.

Invisible Work Card Collection for EMEC

invisiblework_publicityimage_800pxJust launched, is a collection of seven cards that demonstrate the Invisible Work ongoing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), in the Orkney islands, Scotland, one of the fieldsites for our Alien Energy research project.

Seasmith, Prophet, Transducer, Storyteller, Beacon, Selkie: Each card personifies one service provided by EMEC. Each is a ‘living technology’ of social and technical expertise that makes the test site work, alongside the better-known wave and tide energy infrastructure. This expertise is usually invisible, but is essential to both the test site, and the future of the marine energy industry as a whole.

These cards and their insights were developed by Laura Watts with our Research Assistant in Orkney, Rebecca Ford, as part of a specific collaboration with EMEC during October-December 2014. Thanks to everyone in Orkney who helped us along the way…


Orkney Photoblog

Laura Watts is photoblogging her fieldwork in Orkney this summer, from August to September 2013. You can stay up to date with the images from her fieldwork around the people and places of the European Marine Energy Centre in Stromness, Orkney, by following this flickr photoset: