(1) The original art piece is "Melting Watch," (also known as Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion) by Salvador Dali. The melting watch and the unworldly perspectives of the objects denotes rejection of natural order. I felt that the painting stood as a good metaphor of virtual reality, where one is not tied by the same rules of gravity, passing of time and space from "the reality." I wanted to give people the control to freely control time. With the right and left arrow, one can either fast forward time or go back to the past. When the watch handles move, the background corresponds accordingly; light gets darker, water flows, pieces of the clock moves, and scraps in air fall down.
(2) One of the biggest challenge was modeling and positioning the watch. Since the original painting defy traditional perspectives, the Maya model that looked very similar to the watch in the painting did not look similar when placed under the camera. I had to bend certain parts more or tweak the rotation to match the shadow and the perspective of the clock.
I also wanted to make the watch look like it's melting. Without any shader, that effect was hard to achieve. Instead, I made individual polygons attached to the watch move along a path.