Zumbidos / Buzzing

Zumbidos: Entre Mosquitoes y Zancudos es un proyecto de antropología sensorial y medial en el cual analicé la construcción simbólica asociada a los mosquitos, al sonido que estos generan y a la manera en la que dichos insectos son percibidos por las personas que conviven con ellos en sus vidas cotidianas.

En términos metodológicos, lo que hice fue publicar en varias redes sociales (Facebook y Twitter) las siguientes preguntas: ¿Cómo suena un mosquito? ¿Cuál es la primera idea que se le viene a la mente cuando escucha la palabra ‘mosquito’ o ‘zancudo’?  El resultado de este proyecto fue un CD con 11 pistas, a través del cual presento las respuestas más representativas que obtuve. Las pistas exploraron cuatro categorías, las cuales provienen de las mismas respuestas de los participantes: insomnio, suciedad, picaduras y zumbidos.

Zumbidos ha sido publicado en SciArtMagazine, Sensory Studies (curado en Concordia University) y en la revista colombiana Innovación y Ciencia.

Este trabajo fue apoyado en parte por el Departamento de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Colciencias)—hoy MinCiencias y el Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology de la Universidad de Manchester.

Buzzing: Between Mosquitoes and Zancudos* is a media anthropology project where I interpret the symbolic construction of mosquitoes through the sounds they make and how they are heard by people who live with these insects in their daily lives.

To do so, I posed questions to various social networks, including Facebook and Twitter: How does the mosquito sound to you? What is the first idea that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘mosquito?’ The result of this project was an 11-track CD, which offered an aural journey that addressed the most representative responses I got. The tracks explored four categories that came from the participants’ responses: sleeplessness, dirtiness, bites, and buzzing.

Buzzing has been featured in SciArtMagazineSensory Studies (curated at Concordia University) and in the Colombian journal Innovación y Ciencia.

This project was supported in part by the Colombian Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias), today MinCiencias, and the University of Manchester’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology.

*Zancudo is a popular term for mosquitos in some Latin American countries


– For me, the zancudo is a bloodsucker.
– I want to squish it now.
– It is a mosquito with very long legs.
– It is an animal that flies, with long legs and stings you.
– Blood… It is annoying when they are getting closer and I hear them.
– (bloodsucker!)
– I want to squish it now.
– It is annoying when they suck your blood, and then you have an itch.
– I am frustrated when I cannot squish it…. Why? Because I am a criminal.
– (bloodsucker!)
– They bite me when I get distracted, not because I allow them.
– Discomfort, uneasiness… it is basically uneasiness.
– Zancudos are those insects that bite you at night and those who transmit dengue.
– The bite is the worst thing…
– The word “zancudo”?... well… that’s when they bite you, you do not want to stop scratching, but the more you scratch, the more it itches…
– A zancudo is an abominable, treacherous, and opportunistic beast that sucks human vital fluids.

[Bad luck]

[Disturbing dreams]

A zancudo is a little insect with two wings and six legs, which disturbs my sleep and burns my feet. And, if by chance it is infected with a much smaller organism, I can make a journey to the sick ward, or to the death world.

[They are dirty]

– What do you think about mosquitoes?
– For me, they are dirty and they also have a lot of microorganisms. They are flying everywhere, but then, they land on your food and that is when they leave the parasites. If mosquitoes were the kind of flies that lay eggs, they would leave a fly larva on the food… so they are dirty…

[Between mosquitoes and zancudos]

– Mosquitoes are very annoying animals… if they land of my food, I must throw it away… because I wouldn't eat it, would you?
– So now, what is the different between mosquitoes and zancudos?
– Well... at least zancudos do not land on food. However, zancudos are very annoying too… When they are inside your bed, they do not allow you to sleep.

[Moscos, mosquitos, zancudos]

A mosco is a black-colored insect, that flies but it is not possible to hear the hum of its wings. It is an annoying animal that lands on food or excrement and then on you. The mosquito is the same as mosco but smaller in size... what I mean is that a mosquito is the diminutive of the word mosco. It is also a black-colored insect but that produces a painful bite. A zancudo is the animal with long legs and a sting that is used to suck blood; and in this process, it can transmit diseases.


I relate this concept to the presence of bites in my body, which normally appear when I am in very tropical places.


The buzzing sound is what bother people the most. This is represented in this track, which was created using the participants’ own sounds in mimicking the mosquito’s buzz (listening with headphones allows you to experience the bodily sensation of having a mosquito near your ears).


…Bastard bug!


[Quicker than me]

– …They are regularly colored like a zebra… with long legs… and I can never catch them, even if they are in front of me.
– I associate this concept with sensation such as insomnia, illness or, oedema. I can even reach the limit of thinking about death or bloodlust.
– Emaciated animal that flies and eats very well.
– I remember a smelly repellent that my Mom used to apply on me… and after that, I will be sticky and full of wheals.
– A zancudo can be vector of malaria, dengue, severe dengue…
– …and they suck blood… it does not matter who you are, but they have their own preferences.
– They are dangerous since they are infected with diseases and can be vectors of them. That is what I think about zancudos…
– They are quicker than me. I usually lose.

Animación por Hernán Marín

Gif animation by Hernán Marín