Digital: Blood Will Have Blood (A Bloody Handshake)

by Beauchamp Art

Blood Will Have Blood

Blood Will Have Blood (A Bloody Handshake)

A photograph of Prince Charles shaking hands with Gerry Adams, accompanied by captions taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Out, damned spot!
What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?


I was originally going to use the line: “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” in place of the final line, to use a more complete quote, but the patchwork of quotations provided the strongest written affect, though does not follow the narrative of the play, nor the lyrical or line structure, but the phrase were effectively bastardised to create the most impact.

The image was taken from the Telegraph’s website (via Google) and was selected as it framed the two figures leaning in to communicate to one another, with the tea cup and saucer poised over the handshake, as if shielding it from a heavenly gaze in a pivotally British manner, and featuring Adams’ red tie near the centre of the frame, echoing the ‘bloody handshake’ overtones. This could also be seen to be n reference to the 1972 Bloody Sunday Bogside Massacre, where the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment shot 26 and killed 14 civilians during a protest in Northern Ireland [Widgery, 1972]. Nevertheless, the broad connotations of reconciliation and old wounds remains prevalent irregardless.

This poster/cover format makes reference to the satirical captioned covers of Private Eye magazine, often featuring popularly distributed news images with titles or captions that offset or parody that which is being depicted subsequently satirising other newspapers. However, this format has also been popularised and widely appropriated in the presentation of ‘internet memes’ (prime examples being ‘LOLcats’ images of cats with anthropomorphic captions overlaying the images, in simplistic manipulations). Since the concept for this image was fairly simplistic, the modification did not take long, and was complete in GIMP, a more basic photo editing program than Photoshop.

The typeface used was Heiti TC, which I have also used in other video works. The kerning was adjusted on the text so that each line would fill the same measure of the frame, with two phrases larger than there set, for emphasis. Moreover, the text boxes were made to distribute the horizontal width across the height of the image and one text box, so the frame would be square, with the other then retying the phrase to an rectangular orientation. The text is white-on-black, to correlate with the monochromatic tonal distribution in the main image, with grey/black suits dominating the image, peppered by light shirts, grey hair, and one white teacup. I refrain from using red type as this would lack any subtly as the context is inferred by the text, and bloody tones are already present in the image.

The captions sit evenly over both figures, so as to direct the quote to both images equally, as if both were saying it to the other, the blood is on both hands, pressed together in a firm grip. However, the Prince is foregrounded, which could be seen to present a more Royalist supporting image (which is unsurprising, given the picture is taken from The Telegraph).

This is in response to the association between Prince Charles as the Commander-in Chef of the Parachute regiment based in Ireland during the troubles who were responsible for the death of a number of Irish Citizens during the troubles; and the IRA, who were responsible for various bombings including the assignation of Prince Charles’ great uncle, Earl Mountbatten in 1979 (although Adams himself has always denied wing a member of the IRA, both he as head of Sinn Féin shared Republican goals and independence).

Two bloody hands lock together in ‘reconciliation and healing’, in pain, anger and memory.

As Susan Sontag observed, “too much remembering […] embitters. To make peace is to forget. To reconcile, it is necessary that memory be faulty and limited” [Sontag, 2003: 103].

For this reason, the quotes were taken fro Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth is haunted by visions of a murder for which she is to blame, but remains persecuted only by her conscious as there lacks the evidence to substantiate any count claim, despite the other characters remaining suspicious. It indicates how even without criminal conviction, all crimes may be punished, guilt ignored remains untreated, the hands still dripping with blood, the minds of all parties clear, and black in the face of the banality of death, the inconsequentiality of life, and an unsympathetic association with one’s fellows. Every terror has two sides.