Jill Magid approaches art and writing as forms of scientific and journalistic research, methodologies she developed as a student at MIT’s Master of Science in Visual Studies program. Her work focuses on the public’s relation to forms of surveillance, control, and data manipulation used by bureaucratic authorities. For a 2004 suite of performance and text pieces, called Evidence Locker, Magid roamed London in a bright red coat, being almost constantly recorded by the city’s "Ring of Steel" CCTV network, which is comprised of almost 500,000 security cameras. Magid has shown surveillance footage from those performances, as well as another 2004 performance, Trust, in which a camera operator guides her through London, blindfolded, via cell phone, as he watches her onscreen at his monitoring station. In 2005, Magid was commissioned by the Dutch secret service agency (AIVD) to create a new work of art for their headquarters. As her project, she decided to adopt the role of a spy, gathering intelligence on the agency itself, which she assembled into a detailed report, subjecting the agency to its own surveillance. When presented with a draft of the report, which Magid fictionalized into a novel titled Becoming Tarden, AIVD agents redacted it heavily, citing security concerns; they permitted her to exhibit the final, uncensored manuscript for one night only, at the Tate Modern in 2010, where it sat under glass before being recovered permanently by AIVD.
Magid has received several large commissions and was the recipient of the 2006 Eyebeam Artist-in-Residence fellowship. She has shown her work internationally for over a decade, including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Austin Museum of Art, the Stedelijk Museum, and Amsterdam’s Museum Van Loon. She has published several artist’s books documenting her various projects.