Phillip Warnell uses the human and animal body or material pertaining to it as a site of exploration, producing a series of works positioned between film and performance, the visual and sonic. Through various specialised media – cinema/film, live performance/musician, video, encounters & participatory works, photography, text, ultra-sound, ingested cameras, high-speed film - a considerable part of his work has concerned itself with the exploration of, and curiosity with, the body's interior, or more precisely, its 'inside-ness'. Though central to his practice, the work is not simply about the body: it exists as a foil, a point of orientation, becoming host to investigative procedures, which record and transmit hidden chemical, biological, psychological and even inter-species transformations. The body becomes a place as much as a person, an object and subject position, bringing to the fore questions of viewpoint, subjectivity and representation. In 'Performing the Interior', a paper presented at the Endo-Ecto conference in February (ICA, London, 2006) Ric Allsopp contextualised Warnell's works within the histories and traditions of performance. He writes: 'Performance is a lens through which both subject(s) and object(s) are joined. What were considered visionary and imaginary entries into the individual body, associated with the traditions of shamanic, magical and theatrical performance, are now routinely materialised through remote imaging technologies which can render the hidden interior spaces of the live, active body, visible and transparent. When placed back in the context of performance such techniques can reveal 'imaginal apertures' which in turn disclose other possibilities, other boundaries for our conception of the body (and the body politic) as a transforming and generative site of representation'. In a 2011 Frieze review of Warnell’s film ‘Outlandish’, writer Erik Morse suggests: “Outlandish remains a fundmentally sensorial experience, attuned to the infinitesimal modulations in atmosphere, which the body, intinitely turned toward the outside – and thus being – encounters infinitely. It is, simultaneously, a loving portrait of France’s most perceptive, most sensitive philosopher, whose world, or worlding, is a torrent of creativity, ecstacy and étrangers. That Warnell is able to descend artfully into both corpi makes him one of the fearless divers of the deep. Phillip Warnell studied MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, In Paris at Cergy Pontoise Art School and at The Fine Art Academy (AVU) in Prague. He has exhibited and performed internationally since 1995, commencing with The Frequency of Resonance at L'Ecart Gallery, Paris with Thomas Hirshhorn, Boris Achour and Claude Leveque. Recent projects and pending exhibitions include solo exhibitions at The South London Gallery, London (2012), 300m3, Gothenburg (2008), Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa (2008), Endo-Ecto, ICA London (solo performance event, 2006) and Copenhagen (2009), and group presentations at The BFI cinema, London (2008), Brakkegrond Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2007), (2006), Le Dojo, Nice (2006), Suture, The Old Operating Theatre, London (2006), Vooruit, Ghent (2006) and a three-person show with Fiona Crisp and Matthew Tickle at Matt's Gallery, London (2005). Warnell’s first major film work, The Girl with X-ray Eyes, screened at several international film festivals and events since 2008, Including those in Marseille (FID), Jihlava, Bilbao, Buenos Aires, Flanders, Amsterdam (IDFA) and the Body Art Disease exhibition and conference at UCLA, Los Angeles (Nov 2008). The film featured at the Sharjah Biennale in 2013, curated by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Warnell’s film, video and writings have featured in publications and catalogues including Zero Visibility - Of the Reverse Order (MASKA publications, 2003), The Girl with X-ray Eyes (distributed by Cornerhouse and Unbound, 2008), and magazines such as Leonardo Magazine (Volume 42: Issue 1, 2009) and Art & Science Now (Thames & Hudson, 2010). He has received several production awards including for Ming of Harlem (Wellcome Trust, 2012 see below), Outlandish (2010) The Wellcome Trust (research & development, 2007), Grants For the Arts: Introspection-Extramission (exhibition & book, 2008), Host (2004) and The Girl with X-Ray Eyes (2006). In 2003 he was the recipient of an Arts Admin research artists bursary and received the Franklin Furnace live art award from New York State Council (2000). As an academic, his research driven practice is widely reputed. In 2008/09, he was artist in residence at Warwick University, financed by The Leverhulme Trust. Since February 2009 he has been Head of the Experimental Filmmaking MA and BA Filmmaking programmes at Kingston University, London, also supervising Phd’s in Moving Image. He leads as a post-graduate mentor on the BFI’s prestigious Doc-Next film commissioning programme. His film: 'Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies', a collaboration with philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, received its world premiere at the FID Marseille Film Festival in July 2009. It was screened at Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival in November 2009. In December 2009, it also screened at the Pompidou Centre, Paris. Further screenings of the piece have included at The South London Gallery, London, Perm International Documentary Festival, Russia and at various academic and research conferences. In January 2011 the film was reviewed by Frieze magazine (online, see above) and in May 2011 it was featured at LOOP Barcelona.
A short film work, I first saw the light (2012), channelled text and artifact by Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, and was presented in a one-week solo exhibition at The South London Gallery, London in September 2012. The film premiered at Locarno Film Festival (2012) and also screened at the Festival of New Cinema, Montreal (October 2012).
Warnell’s newest film project, Ming of Harlem: Twenty one storeys in the air, was selected for the 2011 FID Lab (part of FID Marseille film festival); a co-producers forum and is now in production with Picture Palace Pictures (New York) and Michigan Films (Brussels) with financial support from The Wellcome Trust (UK), ACE, UK and the Belgian Experimental Film fund. A trailer for the film has been commissioned as part of Random Acts (3-minute artists’ films) for broadcast on Channel 4 Television in 2013.